- A group of civic-minded citizens, led by lawyer and banker Elbridge T. Gerry, established the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, in 1875. The society's intention of preventing abuses by producers and exploitive parents was largely covered by child labor laws passed during the same era, but the society focused much attention on the stage and was often criticized for overzealousness. Eddie Foy and his children, "the seven little Foys," famously ran afoul of the Gerry Society. Well into the 20th century, producers were compelled to seek the society's approval before employing child performers on the legitimate stage and in vaudeville. The society continues its functions today.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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