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Heartbreaking Photographs of Child Labour In USA

Students entering the job market might think it is very hard to find a job matching their degree. Some of them might think, working on a construction site or as a dishwasher is unfair. But it is nothing compared to what these kids had to go through in early 1900s America. A lot of them did not even have a luxury going to an elementary school. Many skipped school or didn’t do their homework so that they could work.

Lewis Hine on behalf of the National Child Labor Committee, documented the dangers and hardships working children. He traveled across the United States and photographed children working in factories, mines, plantations and textile mills. Some of them were less than 5 years of age. Kids working in coal mines inhaled damaging dust daily, while those working with machines in textile mills could lose fingers.

Check out these heartbreaking photographs of child labour in USA taken by Lewis Hine.

1. 12 year old Clinton Stewart and his mowing machine, 1915.

Rural Accident. Twelve-year old Clinton Stewart and his mowing machine which cut off his hand.

child labour Lewis Hine (1)

2. 11-year-old Callie Campbell picking cotton, 1916.

Callie Campbell, 11 years old, picks 75 to 125 pounds of cotton a day, and totes 50 pounds of it when sack gets full. “No, I don’t like it very much.” Location: Potawotamie County, Oklahoma.

child labour Lewis Hine (2)

3. Cartoners at Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #2, 1911.

Some of the cartoners, not the youngest, at Seacoast Canning Co., Factory #2. Location: Eastport, Maine.

child labour Lewis Hine (3)

4. Young boys work around and on these coal cars, 1910.

On the tipple at the Bessie Mine, Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co. These young boys work around and on these coal cars, loaded and empty, while they are running at full speed. It is dangerous. One of these boys said, “Ain’t hardly a day goes by that someone don’t get pinched or hurt.” “I got my leg jammed a while ago and was laid up a week.” Location: Bessie Mine, Alabama.

child labour Lewis Hine (4)

5. Willie Bryden, a 13 years old nipper, 1911.

Waiting all alone in the dark for a trip to come through. It was so damp that Willie said he had to be doctoring all the time for his cough. A short distance from here, the gas was pouring into the mine so rapidly that it made a great torch when the foreman lit it. Willie had been working here for four months, 500 feet down the shaft, and a quarter of a mile underground from there. (Shaft #6 Pennsylvania Coal Co.) Walls have been whitewashed to make it lighter. January 16th, I found Willie at home sick, His mother admitted that he is only 13 yrs old; will be 14 next July. Said that 4 mos. ago the mine boss told the father to take Willie to work, and that they obtained the certificate from Squire Barrett. (The only thing the Squire could do was to make Willie out to be 16 yrs old.) Willie’s father and brother are miners and the home is that of a frugal German family. Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.

child labour Lewis Hine (5)

6. A view of the Pennsylvania Breaker, 1911.

The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrates the utmost recess of the boy’s lungs. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

child labour Lewis Hine (6)

7. Breaker boys in #9 breaker, 1911.

Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.

child labour Lewis Hine (7)

8. Youngsters at Bibb Mill No. 1, 1909.

Some boys were so small they had to climb up on the spinning frame to mend the broken threads and put back the empty bobbins. Location: Macon, Georgia.

child labour Lewis Hine (8)

9. Some of the boys at a busy trolley junction, 1912.

3 brothers, Salvatore, 9 yrs. (in front), Joseph, 11 yrs. (cripple), Lewis, 13 yrs. (between these 2). “We would be murdered if we shop craps.” Boy at left sold me pair of dice for 2 cents. – what he would have to pay for more. Location: Jersey City, New Jersey.

child labour Lewis Hine (9)

10. Young Cigarmakers in Englehardt & Co., 1909.

There boys looked under 14. Work was slack and youngsters were not being employed much. Labor told me in busy times many small boys and girls are employed. Location: Tampa, Florida.

child labour Lewis Hine (10)

11. Stealing coal from railroad coal-yard, 1917.

Location: Boston, Massachusetts.

child labour Lewis Hine (11)

12. Vance, a 15 years old Trapper Boy, 1908.

Has trapped for several years in a West Va. Coal mine. $.75 a day for 10 hours work. All he does is to open and shut this door: most of the time he sits here idle, waiting for the cars to come. On account of the intense darkness in the mine, the hieroglyphics on the door were not visible until plate was developed. Location: West Virginia.

child labour Lewis Hine (12)

13. 5-year-old Jo Benevidos eating his lunch, 1912.

Jo Benevidos, 5 Merion St. Curled up in a doffing box, eating his lunch. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts.

child labour Lewis Hine (13)

14. Manuel, the 5 years old shrimp-picker, 1911.

Behind him there is a mountain of child-labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Dunbar, Lopez, Dukate Company. Location: Biloxi, Mississippi.

child labour Lewis Hine (14)

15. 11-year-old girl at Crescent Hosiery Mill, 1914.

Nannie Coleson, looper who said she was 11 years old, and has been working in the Crescent Hosiery Mill for some months. Makes about $3 a week. Has been through the 5th grade in school. She is bright, but unsophisticated. Told investigator, “There are other little girls in the mill too. One of them, says she’s 13, but she doesn’t look any older than me.” Location: Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

child labour Lewis Hine (15)

16. 15-year-old Estelle Poiriere with finger injury, 1916.

Union Hospital case – Estelle Poiriere, 137 Robeson St., 15 years old. Doffer at Granite No. 1 mill. Laceration of index and middle finger of right hand. Caught in card machine. Injured Dec. 21, 1915 and finger grew stiff and had to have cord cut. Still an outpatient in June and not working yet. Location: Fall River, Massachusetts.

child labour Lewis Hine (16)

17. Boys working in Maple Mill, Dillon, 1908.

Boys working in Maple Mill, Dillon, S.C. Pete Dunlap (smaller). Said 11 years old. Mannings Dunlap. Both doff-40 cents a day. Location: Dillon, South Carolina.

child labour Lewis Hine (17)

18. Sweeper and Doffer Boys, 1908.

Sweeper and Doffer Boys, Lancaster Mills (Cotton). S.C. Many more as small. Location: Lancaster, South Carolina.

child labour Lewis Hine (18)

19. 3-year-old playing at Ivey Mill, 1908.

Ivey Mill, Hickory, N.C. Little one, 3 years old, who visits and plays in the mill. Daughter of the overseer. Location: Hickory, North Carolina.

child labour Lewis Hine (19)

20. Amos, 6, and Horace, 4 years old, in Tobacco Fields, 1916.

Their father, John Neal is a renter and raises tobacco. He said (and the owner of the land confirmed it) that both these boys work day after day from “sun-up to sun-down” worming and suckering, and that they are as steady as a grown-up. Location: Warren County –Albaton, Kentucky.

child labour Lewis Hine (20)

Source: The U.S. Library of Congress

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There will be something about me. I'm too lazy now.

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