If you visit Flickr you may have seen that the Library of Congress posted some of Lewis Hine’s photographs of child labor. They’re amazing. They were taken between 1908 and 1924 but I feel like I’m right there with him, witnessing.
Rhodes Mfg. Co., Lincolnton, N.C. Spinner. A moments glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 10 years old. Been working over a year. 1908 November.
I thought I knew this photograph from The History of Photography by Beaumont Newhall, one of my college textbooks. But I looked it up and the book photograph is of a different girl, perhaps working at the same mill? There must have been so many mills and factories full of kids.
Little Fannie, 7 years old, 48 inches high, helps sister in Elk Mills. Her sister (in photo) said, “Yes, she he’ps me right smart. Not all day but all she can. Yes, she started with me at six this mornin’.” These two belong to a family of 19 children. 1910 November.
Lunch Time, Economy Glass Works, Morgantown, W. Va. Plenty more like this, inside. 1908 October.
I love the mystery arm on the right and the chalked graffiti heads on the door. I wonder if children worked at the Ellenville Glass Works that used to operate in my village.
Manuel, the young shrimp-picker, five years old, and a mountain of child-labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Dunbar, Lopez, Dukate Company. 1911 February.
I can’t help remembering that my grandmothers were born in 1909 and 1914, respectively. Just a few years after these kids.
Check out all the Lewis Hines photos on Flickr.