The Lives Of Young Workers Before Child labour Was Abolished

working child thumb, lewis hine, 1900s

Photo: Lewis Hine / U.S. National Archives

Lewis Hine was an American sociologist and photographer whose work was instrumental in changing the child labour laws in the United States.In 1908, Hine became the photographer for the National Child labour Committee, and over the next decade, he documented child labour in American industry to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice.

We are featuring a selection of his photographs that detail the lives of working children.

Helen, 5, and her stepsisters hulling strawberries at Johnson's Hulling Station. This is her 2nd season at Johnson's Hulling Sta. On the day of investigation, she started working at 6 A.M., and at 6 P.M. the same day, Helen was still hulling strawberries. Seaford, Del, May 1910

Richard Pierce, 14, has been a Western Union Telegraph Co. messenger for 9 months. He works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., smokes and visits houses of prostitution. Wilmington, Del, May 1910

Joseph Severio, 11, has been a peanut vender for 2 years. He works 6 hours per day, and is usually out on the streets well after midnight. He doesn't smoke, and gives all earnings to his father. Wilmington, Del, May 1910

Newsboy James Loqulla, 12, has been selling papers for 3 years. His average earnings come to about 50 cents a week. He doesn't smoke, but visits saloons. He works 7 hours a day. Wilmington, Del, May 1910

Gum vendors still selling at 9pm near the National theatre. Eli Marks, 8, makes 25 cents a night. Morris Marks, 10, makes 50 cents a night. Harry Schneider, 11, also makes 50 cents a night. April 1912

On the right end is Marie Colbeck, 8, who shucks six or seven pots of oysters a day (making 30 or 35 cents) at Alabama Canning Factory. At left end, Johnnie Schraker, also 8, says she earns 45 cents a day. She's been schucking for 3 years. Bayou La Batre, Ala, February 1911

Minnie Thomas, 9, shows the average size of the sardine knife as large as this. Eastport, ME, August 1911

General view of spinning room, Cornell Mill, Fall River, Mass, January 1912

Katie, 13, and Angeline, 11, make cuffs. They make about $1 a week and work some nights till 8 P.M. New York City, January 1912

Amelia Sousa, 12, picks 22 measures of berries. Children said Balmeda, 4, doesn't pick, but she was picking just the same. September 1911

9 P.M. in an Indiana Glass Works. Indiana, August 1908

Girl working in Box Factory. There are 10 small boys and girls working there. Tampa, Fla, January 1909

Boys picking over garbage on the dumps. Boston, Mass, October 1909

Garment workers: Katrina De Cato, 6, Franco Brezoo, 11, Maria Attreo, 12, Mattie Attreo, 5. New York City, January 1910

Breaker boys at Hughestown Borough Coal Co. Pittston, Pa, January 1911

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