Alzina Stevens (née Parsons) (May 27, 1849 – June 3, 1900) was an American labor leader and journalist, active in Hull House. Stevens was born in Parsonsfield, Maine to Enoch Parsons and Louise Page. Although her early marriage ended in divorce, she kept her husband's name.
By thirteen, she worked in a local textile company where she lost her right index finger in an accident. Stevens saw her missing finger as a constant reminder of the need to improve working conditions and regulate child labour.
In 1867, she moved to Chicago and found work in the printing trade as a typesetter and proof-reader. She became active in the trade unions, notably as one of the leaders of the Knights of Labor in Chicago.
In 1892 Stevens became a resident of Hull House where she joined other social reformers such as Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, and Sophonisba Breckinridge at the settlement. Stevens became one of the few women involved at Hull House who had first-hand experience of working-class life.
In 1893, Stevens became Florence Kelley's assistant as the state's factory inspector and together the two women helped John Peter Altgeld to pass and enforce legislation that controlled child labour in Illinois. This included a law limiting women and children to a maximum eight-hour day. This success was short-lived and in 1895 the Illinois Manufacturers' Association got the law repealed.
In 1896, Stevens became the first probation officer of the recently established Cook County Juvenile Court Committee.
- Further reading
- Davis, Allen F. "Stevens, Alzina Parsons" Notable American Women. Vol. 3, 4th ed., The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975
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