What was life like for the Newsies of New York? Day to day these poor, often abandoned, sometimes immigrant children sold newspapers on New York City streets in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, trying to earn enough to pay for a bed for the night just to start again the next morning. But eventually, these boys (and sometimes girls) would change the course of history. In 1899 groups of Newsies banded together to strike against how Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst’s raising the cost of a newsboy bundle of 100 newspapers from 50¢ to 60¢. After two weeks of striking, the papers agreed to buy back unsold papers, offsetting the costs for the Newsies.
Broadway will soon be tackling the story of the Newsies with a new musical, based off the 1992 film starring a perfectly adorable Christian Bale. But the DiMenna Children’s History Museum is also dedicated to teaching kids about the lives of these Newsies, with an interactive pavillion and games that demonstrate their everyday struggles, and the struggles of other children who had to work from a very young age. Children can learn about the strike, then play a game based on a day in the life of a Newsie, where they sell papers and use their earnings to buy food and shelter, all while keeping bullies away.
So, do you think you’d cut it as a Newsie? Or are you grateful you got to spend your childhood in school?