“The dependent widower. Wanted, a backbone! This ablebodied Scotch-Irish farmer after 50 years of farm life some miles from any railroad, came to Meridian, Miss. two years ago to obtain better school advantages for his children, (so he told me), and this is the way the children utilize those advantages, one child of 11 and one of 15 work in the knitting mill. Two smaller ones go to school very irregularly. I found the fathers occuptaion during the several days I was there, and from a neighbor’s testimony, to mainly consist of loafing around the corner grocery, toting dinner to the children, lolling around the house, and occasionally visiting the old farm. Regarding the effects of closing the Meridian Mill, he said; “Most of the men got work at other factories around here, while some moved away, but the greatest hardship was on the children. Now they have to go to school.” His sanctimonious disquisition on his love for the family was nauseating. In the back ground, (where the mill children are too often kept) is one of his youngsters, deprives of his right to toil. Meridian, Miss.” 4/26/1911
Lewis Hine’s sharp eye for hypocrisy spares no expense in this particularly biting assessment.
Mrs. Battaglia, Tessie (age - 12 years), Tony (age - 7 years), 170 Mulberry St. Rear house, 5th floor. Garment workers. Husband crippled by a fall, tends to basement. Mrs. Battaglia works in shop except Saturdays, when the children sew with her at home. Get 2 or 3 cents a pair finishing men’s pants. Said they earn $1 to $1.50 on Saturday. Father disabled and can earn very little. New York. 01/25/1908
“On the tenth day of Archives an archivist brought to me:
Ten messengers playing poker
nine Metlakahlta baseball players
Eight Navy officers
seven of Mrs. Hicks’s eight children,
six tiny thorn carvings,
five sisters from Alaska,
four boys hanging out at the Fletcher aircraft school,
three happy girls at a West Virginian celebration,
two San Francisco children painting,
and one astronaut in space.”
“8 p.m.: Flashlight photo of messengers absorbed in their usual game of poker in the ‘Den of the terrible nine.’ (Waiting room for Western Union Messengers, Hartford, Connecticut.)” March 5, 1909, ARC Identifier 523167.
Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Dozens of them in this mill. Lancaster, S.C., 12/01/1908
Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. From the series: National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine
“This Counter Restaurant is at CCC Camp, TVA #22, near Esco, Tennessee. Temporarily the boys are eating outdoors and using for a lunch counter lumber which is to be used in the construction of their winter barracks. The barracks are being built by local labor. The cook’s tent, officers’ mess tent, etc., are in the background.”, 11/17/1933
In 1933, after submitting an outline for an introductory photographic survey of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) projects, Lewis W. Hine was hired to do a one month assignment in East Tennessee. This photo of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers was taken November 17, 1933.
Happy Birthday, Lewis Hine
Breaker boys. Smallest is Angelo Ross. Hughestown Borough Coal Co. Pittston, Pa., 01/16/1911
Born September 26, 1874, investigative photographer Lewis Wickes Hine used his camera as both a research tool and an instrument of social reform. This photograph is one of a series given to the Children’s Bureau by the National Child Labor Committee. The almost five hundred photographs represent a fraction of the approximately 5,000 photographs Hine took for the committee to document working and living conditions for children.
Hine’s efforts were nearly forgotten when he passed away in 1940, but his work has seen a resurgence in interest. What’s your favorite Lewis Hine photo?
The “Four Novelty Grahams,” acrobatic performers at the Victoria Theatre, Philadelphia, 06/10/1910
This picture shows the “Four Novelty Grahams,” acrobatic performers at the Victoria Theatre, Philadelphia. The father is 23 years old. Willie is 5 years old, Herbert is 3 years old. At 9 P.M. June 10, these children were seen performing on the stage. Four times daily they do a turn which lasts 12 to 14 minutes. Herbert, the youngest, was by the father to have commence performing on the stage as an acrobat when he was 10 1/2 months old. Willie, now 5, is said to be the youngest acrobat in the world. The attached letter head shows some of the stunts these youngsters are engaged in. The mother of these boys was formerly a school teacher, and is now performing with this trio on stage. The children are bright and strong, but have a playfulness about them which shows them to have forgotten the best years of their childhood. Philadelphia, Pa.
11:00 A.M. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch. They were all smoking. St. Louis, Mo., 05/09/1910
From the series: National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine
102 Floors, 6,500 Windows, 73 Elevators, 410 Days to Complete - The Glorious Empire State Building
President Hoover dedicated the Empire State Building on this day, May 1, 1931.
Herbert Hoover’s dedication was delivered from the White House where a ceremonial switch had been set up. The President touched the switch and an operator in New York was cued to turn on the Empire State Building lights.
Photographer Lewis Hine documented incredible aerial scenes of workers constructing the Empire State Building. Here’s one of Hine’s photos of a workman on the framework of the skyscraper.
Merilda, carrying cranberries. Rochester, Mass., 09/13/1911
From National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine
April 26 is Take your Child to Work Day, including here at the National Archives. This Lewis Hine photo was selected by junior-web-curator-in-training Eamon C., age 8. We chose this photo as a sobering reminder that bringing kids to work was not always a solely educational or infrequent experience. Of this photo he says:
“This is a good picture except that the girl is showing sadness. I think that I’m lucky that I get to go to school and not work.”
Did you bring your daughter or son to work today — or did you ever get to shadow your parents at work?
“Photograph taken after midnight on April 17, 1912, G St. near 14th. These boys, 10, 11, and 12 years old, were stuck with over fifty papers in their hands, and vowed they would stay until they sold out if it took all night. The oldest said, ‘my mother makes me sell.’”
Explore more photographs from Lewis Hine in the National Archives
Photograph of 5 year old Willie (William Frederick Tear, 490 Louisiana Ave.) one of Washington’s youngest news-boys. He is a kind of free-lance, helps other boys out, and roams around the city on his little velocipede, with all the recklessness of extreme youth. Gets lost occasionally. He was so immature that he couldn’t talk plain, and yet he was pretty keen about striking people for nickels., 04/16/1912
Lewis Hine, Photographer. From the records of the Congressional Committee on the District of Columbia
“I allus axes em fer nickels”
Photograph of Louis Gabriel (13 years old) and brother Eddie (10 years old) and Johnnie (7 years old). The photographer found Louis and Eddie selling after midnight on April 17 with about fifty papers left on their hands. Eddie says he is often up until 9 or 12 P.M. and sometimes up at 4 A.M. Sunday. They said they make several dollars some days, “Wid de tips.” The younger ones were very voluble about tips. “I allus axes em fer nickels” Johnnie said. The two older boys, Louis and Eddie, are on probation at Juvenile Court. Family is well known to charities. Father taken into court for non-support. Has deserted. 04/10/1912