The History Place - Child Labor in America

Featuring the original photo captions by Lewis W. Hine

 About these Photos

 Faces of Lost Youth

Left - 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. Columbia, South Carolina. Mid - Adolescent girls from Bibb Mfg. Co. in Macon, Georgia. Right - Doffer boys. Macon, Georgia.

The Mill

Left - A general view of spinning room, Cornell Mill. Fall River, Massachusetts. Mid - A moment's glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 11 years old. Been working over a year. Rhodes Mfg. Co. Lincolnton, North Carolina Right - Some boys and girls were so small they had to climb up on to the spinning frame to mend broken threads and to put back the empty bobbins. Bibb Mill No. 1. Macon, Georgia.

Left - One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, North Carolina. Mid - The overseer said apologetically, "She just happened in." She was working steadily. The mills seem full of youngsters who "just happened in" or "are helping sister." Newberry, South Carolina. Right - Jo Bodeon, a back-roper in the mule room at Chace Cotton Mill. Burlington, Vermont.

Newsies

Left - A small newsie downtown on a Saturday afternoon. St. Louis, Missouri. Mid - A group of newsies selling on the Capitol steps. Tony, age 8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C. Right - Tony Casale, age 11, been selling 4 years. Sells sometimes until 10 p.m. His paper told me the boy had shown him the marks on his arm where his father had bitten him for not selling more papers. He (the boy) said, "Drunken men say bad words to us." Hartford, Connecticut.

Left - 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

Left - At the close of day. Waiting for the cage to go up. The cage is entirely open on two sides and not very well protected on the other two, and is usually crowded like this. The small boy in front is Jo Puma. South Pittston, Pennsylvania. Mid - 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. Right - Harley Bruce, a young coupling-boy at Indian Mine. He appears to be 12 or 14 years old and says he has been working there about a year. It is hard work and dangerous. Near Jellico, Tennessee.

Left - Breaker boys, Hughestown Borough, Pennsylvania Coal Co. One of these is James Leonard, another is Stanley Rasmus. Pittston, Pennsylvania. Mid - 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. Right - Breaker boys. Smallest is Angelo Ross. Pittston, Pennsylvania.

The Factory

Left - View of the Scotland Mills, showing boys who work in the mill. Laurinburg, North Carolina. Mid - 9 p.m. in an Indiana Glass Works. Right - Some of the young knitters in London Hosiery Mills. London, Tennessee.

Left - Young cigar makers in Engelhardt & Co. Three boys looked under 14. Labor leaders told me in busy times many small boys and girls were employed. Youngsters all smoke. Tampa, Florida. Mid - Boys in the packing room at the Brown Mfg. Co. Evansville, Indiana. Right - Willie, a Polish boy, taking his noon rest in a doffer box at the Quidwick Co. Mill. Anthony, Rhode Island.

Left - Day scene. Wheaton Glass Works. Boy is Howard Lee. His mother showed me the family record in Bible which gave his birth as July 15, 1894. 15 years old now, but has been in glass works two years and some nights. Millville, New Jersey. Mid - A boy making melon baskets in a basket factory. Evansville, Indiana. Right - Rob Kidd, one of the young workers in a glass factory. Alexandria, Virginia.

Seafood Workers

Left - Oyster shuckers working in a canning factory. All but the very smallest babies work. Began work at 3:30 a.m. and expected to work until 5 p.m. The little girl in the center was working. Her mother said she is "a real help to me." Dunbar, Louisiana. Mid - Shrimp pickers, including little 8-year-old Max on the right. Biloxi, Mississippi. Right - Johnnie, a 9-year-old oyster shucker. Man with pipe behind him is a Padrone who has brought these people from Baltimore for four years. He is the boss of the shucking shed. Dunbar, Louisiana.

Left - 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. Mid - 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 gits into the cuts and they ache," said one boy. Eastport, Maine. Right - 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.

Field and Farm Work

Left - Camille Carmo, age 7, and Justine, age 9. The older girl picks about 4 pails a day. Rochester, Massachusetts. Mid - Three boys, one of 13 yrs., two of 14 yrs., picking shade-grown tobacco on Hackett Farm. The "first picking" necessitates a sitting posture. Buckland, Connecticut. Right - Six-year-old Warren Frakes. Mother said he picked 41 pounds yesterday "An I don't make him pick; he picked some last year." Has about 20 pounds in his bag. Comanche County, Oklahoma.

Left - Twelve-year-old Lahnert boy topping beets. The father, mother, and two boys (9 and 12 yrs.) expect to make $700 in about 2 months time in the beet work. "The boys can keep up with me all right, and all day long," the father said. Begin at 6 a.m. and work until 6 p.m. with an hour off at noon. Fort Collins, Colorado. Mid - Eight-year-old Jack driving a horse rake. A small boy has difficulty keeping his seat on rough ground and this work is more or less dangerous. Western Massachusetts. Right - Norris Luvitt. Been picking 3 years in berry fields near Baltimore.

Little Salesmen

Left - After 9 p.m., 7-year-old Tommie Nooman demonstrating the advantages of the Ideal Necktie Form in a store window on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. His father said, "He is the youngest demonstrator in America. Has been doing it for several years from San Francisco to New York. We stay a month or six weeks in a place. He works at it off and on." Remarks from the bystanders were not having the best effect on Tommie. Mid - Joseph Severio, peanut vender, age 11 [seen with photographer Hine]. Been pushing a cart 2 years. Out after midnight on May 21, 1910. Ordinarily works 6 hours per day. Works of his own volition. All earnings go to his father. Wilmington, Delaware. Right - In business for himself. Boston, Massachusetts.

A Variety of Jobs

Left - A Bowery bootblack in New York City. Mid - Bowling Alley boys. Many of them work setting pins until past midnight. New Haven, Connecticut. Right - George Christopher, Postal Telegraph, age 14. Been at it over 3 years. Does not work nights. Nashville, Tennessee.

Left - A boy carrying hats in New York City. Mid - Young boys working for Hickok Lumber Co. Burlington, Vermont. Right - Three young boys with shovels standing in the doorway of a Fort Worth & Denver train car.

Struggling Families

Left - A Jewish family and neighbors working until late at night sewing garters. This happens several nights a week when there is plenty of work. The youngest work until 9 p.m. The others until 11 p.m. or later. On the left is Mary, age 7, and 10-year-old Sam, and next to the mother is a 12-year-old boy. On the right are Sarah, age 7, next is her 11-year-old sister, 13-year-old brother. Father is out of work and also helps make garters. New York City. Mid - A family working in the Tifton Cotton Mill. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. Two of them went off and got married. The family left the farm two years ago to work in the mill. Tifton, Georgia. Right - Picking nuts in dirty basement. The dirtiest imaginable children were pawing over the nuts and eating lunch on the table. Mother had a cold and blew her nose frequently (without washing her hands) and the dirty handkerchiefs reposed comfortably on table close to the nuts and nut meats. The father picks now. New York City.

Pastimes and Vices

Left - Killing time. Mill boys and men hanging around Swift's Pool Room, Saturday p.m. A common sight any day. Educational influences; bad stories and remarks – will not bear repetition. Fall River, Massachusetts. Mid - Messengers absorbed in their usual game of poker in the "Den of the terrible nine" (the waiting room for Western Union Messengers). 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. Hartford, Connecticut. Right - Juvenile Court. An 8-year-old boy charged with stealing a bicycle. St. Louis, Missouri.

Left - A group of newsies playing craps in the jail alley at 10 p.m. Albany, New York. Mid - 11 a.m. Newsies at Skeeter's Branch. They were all smoking. St. Louis, Missouri.. Right - 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.

Group Portraits

Left - Getting working papers in New York City. Mid - Children on the night shift going to work at 6 p.m. on a cold, dark December day. They do not come out again until 6 a.m. When they went home the next morning they were all drenched by a heavy, cold rain and had few or no wraps. Two of the smaller girls with three other sisters work on the night shift and support a big, lazy father who complains he is not well enough to work. He loafs around the country store. The oldest three of these sisters have been in the mill for 7 years, and the two youngest for two years. The latter earns 84 cents a night. Whitnel, North Carolina. Right - Some of the workers in the Farrand Packing Co. Baltimore, Maryland.

Left - At 5 p.m., boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. One boy remarked, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, West Virginia. Mid - A few of the young workers in the Beaumont Mill. Spartenburg, South Carolina. Right - Fish cutters at a canning company in Maine. Ages range from 7 to 12. They live near the factory. The 7-year-old boy in front, Byron Hamilton, has a badly cut finger but helps his brother regularly. Behind him is his brother George, age 11, who cut his finger half off while working. Ralph, on the left, displays his knife and also a badly cut finger. They and many youngsters said they were always cutting themselves. George earns a dollar some days usually 75 cents. Some of the others say they earn a dollar when they work all day. At times they start at 7 a.m. and work all day until midnight.

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