Each week Sepia Saturday inspires bloggers to create a nostalgic or historic post based on a theme. This week we’re given an organ grinder with a monkey, which reminds me of the Horatio Alger book I just finished reading Phil the Fiddler. While the book is formulaic, the story did teach me about the many Italy children sold into servitude in the 19th century. It’s a quick read and one I recommend.
Small boy being beaten by adults for not earning enough money as a street violinist. New York City. I had no idea this was a thing.
Italian Street Musicians and Their Masters. , 1873. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2004678608/.
“A street musician and a cop on Mulberry Street, 1897. Notice the banks in the background. Mulberry Street was known as ‘the Italian Wall Street’ for all the banks which assisted in Italians saving and sending home their earnings.” (Source: The Bowery Boys, New York City History.)
I’ll add that this boy likely had to give all his money to a padrone who’d purchased him from his parents. In Phil the Fiddler, the padrone had paid $75 for each boy. If a boy didn’t make $2 a day, he’d be beaten.
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