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Child Labor
Child Labor in America 1908-1912
Photographs of Lewis W. Hine
About Lewis Hine
His first photo essay featured Ellis Island immigrants. In 1908, Hine left his teaching
position for a full-time job as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor
Committee, which was then conducting a major campaign against the exploitation of
American children.
From 1908 to 1912, Hine took his camera across America to photograph children as
young as three years old working for long hours, often under dangerous conditions, in
factories, mines, and fields. Hine was an immensely talented photographer who viewed
his young subjects with the eye of a humanitarian.
In 1909, he published the first of many photo essays depicting working children at risk. In
these photographs, the essence of wasted youth is apparent in the sorrowful and even
angry faces of his subjects. Some of his images, such as the young girl in the mill
glimpsing out the window, are among the most famous photographs ever taken.
Faces of the Lost Youth
Furman Owens, 12-years-old. Can't read. Doesn't know his
A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the
time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill.
Adolescent girls from Bibb Mfg. Co. in Macon, Georgia.
Doffer boys. Macon, Georgia.
Newsies
A small newsie downtown on a Saturday afternoon. St.
Louis, Missouri.
A group of newsies selling on the Capitol steps. Tony, age
8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C.
Out after midnight selling extras. There were many young
boys selling very late. Youngest boy in the group is 9 years
old. Harry, age 11, Eugene and the rest were a little older.
Washington, D.C. Mid - Newsboy asleep on stairs with
papers. Jersey City, New Jersey. Right - Michael McNelis,
age 8, a newsboy [with photographer Hine]. This boy has
just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia. Was
found selling papers in a big rain storm. Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania.
Left:Francis Lance, 5 years old, 41 inches high. He jumps on and off
moving trolley cars at the risk of his life. St. Louis, Missouri. Mid Fighting is not unusual here. In the alley, 4 p.m. Rochester, New
York. Right - Where the newsboy's money goes (an ice cream
vendor). Wilmington, Delaware.
MINERS
View of the Ewen Breaker of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. The dust was so
dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrated the utmost
recesses of the boys' lungs. A kind of slave-driver sometimes stands
over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. South
Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Breaker boys. Smallest is Angelo Ross. Pittston,
Pennsylvania.
A young driver in the Brown Mine.
Has been driving one year. Works
7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Brown,
West Virginia.
Seafood workers
Shrimp pickers, including little 8-year-old Max on the
right. Biloxi, Mississippi.
Hiram Pulk, age 9, working in a canning company. "I ain't very fast
only about 5 boxes a day. They pay about 5 cents a box," he said.
Eastport, Maine.
Cutting fish in a sardine cannery. Large sharp knives are used with a
cutting and sometimes chopping motion. The slippery floors and
benches and careless bumping into each other increase the liability
of accidents. "The salt water gets into the cuts and they ache," said
one boy. Eastport, Maine.
Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, and a mountain of
child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year.
Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Mississippi.
Variety of Jobs
Bowling Alley boys. Many of them work setting pins until past
midnight. New Haven, Connecticut.
A Bowery bootblack in New York City.
Three young boys with shovels standing in doorway
of a Fort Worth & Denver train car.
Young boys working for Hickok Lumber Co.
Burlington, Vermont.
Pastimes
Messengers absorbed in
their usual game of poker
in the "Den of the terrible
nine" (the waiting room
for Western Union
Messengers, Hartford,
Connecticut). They play
for money. Some lose a
whole month's wages in a
day and then are afraid to
go home. The boy on the
right has been a
messenger for 4 years.
Began at 12 years of age.
He works all night now.
During an evening's
conversation he told me
stories about his
experiences with
prostitutes to whom he
carries messages
frequently.
A group of newsies playing craps in the jail alley at 10 p.m.
Albany, New York.
Richard Pierce, age 14,
a Western Union
Telegraph Co.
messenger. Nine
months in service,
works from 7 a.m. to 6
p.m. Smokes and visits
houses of prostitution.
Wilmington, Delaware.

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