In 1900s Portland , child labor was real … and awful


Susan Stoner, retired former attorney at Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, has just published the eighth in a series of closely-researched historical detective fiction novels set in the Portland of the early 20th century. The series, written under the pen name S.L. Stoner, follows fictional trade union operative Sage Adair.

The latest installment is entitled Bitter Cry, and brings to life the issue of child labor. It’s populated by fictionalized versions of real-life figures like Portland mayor Harry Lane, an anti-corruption reformer, and Millie Trumbull, a progressive activist who campaigned against child labor and served as the Oregon Child Labor Commission’s first staff person and inspector. The book’s title is taken from The Bitter Cry of the Children, a 1906 book that exposed child poverty and malnourishment and horrific conditions among child laborers.

Stoner will be selling and signing the book at the Oregon Historical Society’s annual book event for Oregon authors Sunday Dec. 8 from noon to 4 p.m. at 1200 SW Park Ave. She’ll also be interviewed about the book on KBOO’s Labor Radio program Monday, Dec. 30 from 6 to 6:30 p.m., broadcast at 90.7 FM in Portland and online at And she’ll give a talk and reading from the book Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd. The book and the series are available online via union-represented as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. Each one of Susan’s books highlight a time in Portland’s history that should be remembered as a guide for the future. Combining her research skills with her writing talent, Susan’s characters bring this history to life – presenting the reader with a delightful read.


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