Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Tired Faces of Children: Industrial-Strength Photographs by Lewis W. Hine

Photographer Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940) was hired in 1908 by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and commissioned with documenting the state of child labor in the United States as part of an investigation that led to major changes in federal laws concerning minors in the workplace. Hine spent time photographing child workers in Adams, Springfield, Chicopee Falls and Ludlow, along with other Western Massachusetts locations, and also worked in Boston, Fall River and down the Eastern Seaboard into the Southern states to show the conditions these children endured daily. As illustrated by the choice of photographs, Western Massachusetts in the early days of the 20th century offered much opportunity for the exploitation of child laborers, from farm worker to delivery driver, mill worker to trash picker, candy maker to newspaper boy, kids found work in many fields, usually to help their families who might not survive without the income.

Plucked from the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress's American Memory Collection, these photographs comprise only a fraction of the web site's Lewis W. Hine image offerings. Photo descriptions are from the NCLC caption cards, with slight modifications for clarity.

Young workers in Berkshire Mills. Adams, Massachusetts. August, 1911.

Young workers in Berkshire Mills. Adams, Massachusetts. August, 1911.

Candy Workers, Kibbe's Factory. Springfield, Massachusetts. October, 1910.

Joseph Crapo, works in Eclipse Mills. Apparently 13 years old. North Adams, Massachusetts. August, 1911.

Eddie Grimshaw. Ludlow, Massachusetts. November, 1911.

15 year old driver of oil wagon and his 10 year old helper. Springfield, Massachusetts. June 27, 1916.

Eight-year old Jack milking the cows. August 1915. Western Massachusetts, Massachusetts.

Lucy Saunders hitching the team to the horse rake. August 1915. Western Massachusetts, Massachusetts (?).

Bobbie and James. Northampton, Massachusetts. August, 1912.

Scavenger. Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. June 29, 1916.

Andrew Stefanik, a bobbin boy, works as spare boy. Chicopee, Massachusetts. November, 1911.

Doffers - Boss said 14 and 15 years old. Indian Orchard Cotton Mill. Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. June 29, 1916.

14-year old spinner in Berkshire Cotton Mills. Adams, Massachusetts. July 10, 1916.

Adolescent boy (illiterate) working in cotton mill. Easthampton, Massachusetts. August, 1912.

Two 15 year old boys working for Westinghouse Electric Co. - going home at 5 P.M. Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. June 29, 1916.

Crossing the trestle - 4 P.M. Westfield, Massachusetts. June 28, 1916.

For more Lewis W. Hine photographs of local child laborers, check out the EWM post: Commerce & Industry: The Kibbe Candy Kids (1910)

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

Photograph LOC Reference URLs:

More Lewis W. Hine from the Library of Congress:

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1 comment:

Yg Bluig said...

I look at these pictures and I just want to stare into space for a while.
Lets do away with unions and weekends and child labor laws. Hoorah!