The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily

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Child Slavery at the Floristella Grottacalda mines in Sicily.

The Caruso was a kid aged 8 to 14 years, assigned to carry on shoulder excavated material in bags of 20/30 kg or baskets (stirraturi) of 15/20 kg and working for 8-10 hour shifts.

Early XX Century. Child labour in Sicily was rampant.

The word Carusu in Sicilian means “boy” and is derived from the Latin word carus, “dear“.

During XIX century through the early 1900s the word carusu was used to denote a “mine-boy”, a labourer in a sulfur who worked next to a picuneri or pick-man and carried raw ore from deep in the mine to the surface.

These carusi generally worked in near-slavery, often given up by foundling homes or even by their own families for a succursu di murti (death benefit), which effectively made them the property of either the picuneri or of the owners of the mines. [Wikipedia]

Read CHILD LABOUR AND THE SULPHUR MINES from “The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study in Europe”, 1912, written by Washington, Booker T.

Sources: 1 , 2

Floristella mines, 1980 circa
Floristella mine, 1900 circa, lodgings for the miners and furnaces.
Carusi and miners.
In narrow tunnels, the wagons were transported directly from the workers
1950-1960 ca
Average basket weight: 20 to 30 kilos
Solfatara of Grottacalda, 1905, Red Cross servants

Floristella mines, 1905.


The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples

Child Labour And the Sulphur Mines in Sicily


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