|Children as young as six often accompanied their
parents to work (ca. 1913).
|The lucky child laborers worked in their parents'
tenement apartments doing piecework.
|Lewis Wickes Hine
|"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
|A newsboy nearly dwarfed by
the papers he sold on the street.
In 1908 Hine left his teaching position to become the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor, with focus on the use of child labor in the Carolina Piedmont, to aid the NCLC's lobbying efforts in ending the practice. In 1913, he documented child laborers among cotton mill workers. Hine's work for the NCLC was often fraught with dangers. As a photographer, he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foremen. At the time, the immorality of child labor was largely hidden from the public. Photography was not only prohibited, but also posed a serious threat to several major industries. To gain entry to the mills, mines, and factories, Hine often assumed various disguises. At times he was a fire inspector, postcard vendor, Bible salesman, or even an industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery.
|Hine had a romantic belief in the possibilities of America, epitomized by his heroic images of construction workers near the top of the nearly completed Empire State Building.
|Boys working in tobacco factories became addicted for life as soon as they were old enough to light a match.
|A Lower East Side "bootblack"
documented by Lewis Hine.