The Social Photography of Lewis HineandThe Child Labor Reform Movement1880 - 1918
What was the nature and extent of Child Labor in the Gilded Age and Progressive Period? • How did the National Child Labor Committee work to “reform” the conditions of child labor? • What was the nature and impact of Lewis Hine’s “social photography,” particularly his child labor photographs? • How might the Lewis Hine’s child labor photographs and his social photography approach be used in history instruction? Lewis Hine, Photographer. At 5 p.m., boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. One boy remarked, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, West Virginia.
“This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed. Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished. It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.” • -Official Summary of a bill introduced into the Missouri Senate by State Senator Jane Cunningham (R)
“We are likely to find ourselves ... facing a situation in which our chief task is not to imagine better worlds but rather to think how to prevent worse ones, how to keep what we have gained by virtue of arduous struggles of those who have proceeded us.” • - Tony Judt (1945 - 2010)
What is Child Labor? In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age works (excluding household chores, in a family shop, or school-related work). An employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below a certain minimum age. This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved. States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16 except for the agricultural industry where children as young as 12 years of age can work in the fields for an unlimited number of non-school hours
“The Insidious Trend” • The number of children under age 16 working doubled between 1890-1900, from 1. 1 million to 1.8 million By 1900, about 1 in every 6 children between the ages of five and ten were engaged in “gainful occupations” in the United States. • In 1900, 18% of children aged 10-15 were employed, but these recorded numbers understate the actual number or percentage of all children employed, which might have been as high as 30%. • Children under age 15 composed 25% of cotton industry workforce in 1900 and the ratio of children to adult workers was the highest in any industry. • In the anthracite and bituminous coal mining industries, boys almost exclusively filled three occupations: slate picker, door tender, and mule driver. • Children worked in most industries: glass factories canneries. • Most newspaper vendors and messenger boys were juveniles.
Some of the workers in the Farrand Packing Co. Baltimore, Maryland. Photographer: Lewis Hine
Why hire children? Employers hired children because they were cheap and relatively malleable • Slate picker: 6-10 cents/hr. • Meat packer: 2 cents/hr. • Glass factory hand: 3 cents/hr. • Cannery worker: 2.5 cents/hr. • Sweatshops: 1-2 cents/hr. • Train yard helper: 1-2 cents/hr. • Mule Driver: 6-10 cents/hr. • Cotton mills: 5 cents/hour for experienced 12 year olds. (Some mills gave children the “opportunity” to gain experience by allowing them to work without pay for a probationary period of up to six weeks. At the end of the period, they often would be fired and replaced by a new set of children on probationary status.) Three young boys with shovels standing in doorway of a Fort Worth & Denver train car.
A textile mill. Sweeper and doffer boys in Lancaster Cotton Mills, Lancaster, S.C. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine, December 1, 1908.
Pastimes and Vices 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. Photographer: Lewis Hine
Two factory girls protesting child labor (by calling it child slavery) New York City Labor Day parade, May 1, 1909
The National Child Labor Committee (1904 - Present) In 1902 an Episcopalian minister, the Reverend Edgar Gardner Murphy, founded the Alabama Child Labor Committee. The next year representatives of thirty-two New York City settlement houses formed the New York Child Labor Committee. These groups collaborated on August 15, 1904, to establish the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), which was incorporated in 1907 with a board that included prominent Progressive reformers. Edgar Gardner Murphy (1869 - 1913)
Progressive Social Reform: Redefining “Social Problems” and their Solutions • Shift from blaming the poor to emphasizing social injustice, from individual charity to social reform. • Shift from “pauperism” (assuming that poverty arises from poor character and morally incorrect behavior) to regarding the poor as the victims of social arrangements and social forces. • Shift to a belief that modern science, methods of efficiency, and social planning could be forces of positive social change, if wielded with the right intentions and not left in the hands of a wealthy elite. • Shift from random charitable “giving’” to a more systemic, rationalized, and professional approach to solving social problems. • Shift from an emphasis on private philanthropy to solutions that required publicity, political lobbying, legislative intervention, and professional expertise. • Connecting reforming purpose with the latest methods of scientific inquiry, such as the Pittsburgh Survey. • Shift from amateur philanthropists towards trained professionals (social scientists, social workers, community health/sanitation personnel) using scientific methods, publicity and political organizing to achieve social change. Hull House Social Worker and Clients, 1890’s Hull House Map of Nationalities, Chicago, 1893
Edward T. Devine (1867 – 1948) - Economist - The Pittsburgh Survey Jane Addams (1860-1935) Hull House The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) Board of Directors Lillian Wald (1867 – 1940) - Henry Street Settlement - Community Nursing - Co- Founder, NAACP - U.S. Children’s Bureau - Women’s League for Peace and Freedom Florence Kelley (1859 – 1932) - Founder National Consumers League - Chief Factory Inspector, Illinois - Co-founder, NAACP "Florence is the toughest customer in the reform riot, the finest rough-and-tumble fighter for the good life for others” - Jane Addams
Lewis Wickes Hine 1874-1940
“Social Betterment” by Teaching Compassionate Seeing “We must contrast the evolutionary character of education to those reforms that are transitory and futile, which rest simply upon the enactment of law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements.” “We must restore the continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience.” John Dewey (1859 - 1952)
How did he do it? Lewis Hine photographing
Featuring the original photo captions by Lewis W. Hine http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/index.html
Furman Owens 12 years old. Columbia, S.C. 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.
Adolescent girls from Bibb Mfg. Co. in Macon, Georgia. Doffer boys. Macon, Georgia.
Children in the Mills A general view of spinning room, Cornell Mill. Fall River, Massachusetts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jo Bodeon, a back-roper in the mule room at Chace Cotton Mill. Burlington, Vermont.
The Newsies “As to the little boys in industry, we have an old assumption that the boy we see on the sidewalk will some day be the Marshall Field or John Wanamaker of his generation. There is no foundation for that. Marshall Field was never a newsboy, and I do not know that John Wanamaker ever was one. We have no evidence that street boys grow into heroes of commerce. We are really encouraging them to be beggars and thieves when we allow them to keep change which they should return if they are ever going to be business men.” - Florence Kelley Text
The “Newsies” A small newsie downtown on a Saturday afternoon. St. Louis, Missouri.
A group of newsies selling on the Capitol steps. Tony, age 8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C.
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.
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.
Newsboy asleep on stairs with papers. Jersey City, New Jersey.
Michael McNelis, age 8, a newsboy [seen 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.
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.
The Child Miners Joe Puma 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.
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.
Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co. South Pittston, Pennsylvania.
“Luther Watson of Kentucky is 14 years old. His right arm was cut off by a veneering saw in a box factory in Cincinnati a month ago ... November 1908.” “He worked in the bung factory. He walked past one of the machines, and it got switched on somehow and his arm got twisted up in it. It was terrible. His parents were dead when he had the injury. “
Questions for Instructional Activities around Child Labor • Do these children look "young" as most children today do? • Why did employers hire young children? • Why did their parents let them work? • Describe the kind of work they did. How long they work in a day? • What are their working conditions. Where did they work? When did they work? Do children today face any dangers that the children in these photographs faced when working? • How do you think adults treated children on the job? • How much did they get paid? • What might have been done to make their life better?
Breaker boys, Hughestown Borough Pennsylvania Coal Company. One of these is James Leonard, another is Stanley Rasmus. Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Breaker boys. Smallest is Angelo Ross. Pittston, Pennsylvania.
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.
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.
The Factory View of the Scotland Mills, showing boys who work in mill. Laurinburg, North Carolina.