About Me

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Photographer Profile ~ Lewis Hine

Lewis Hine (1874-1940) was an American photographer. He was trained as a sociologist. In 1904 he began to photograph immigrants at Ellis Island, the tenements and sweatshops where they lived and worked. In 1911 he was hired by the National Child Labor Committee to record child labour conditions. Traveling throughout the East, he produced pictures of exploited child workers. The often beautiful and always poignant images still resonate today as many developing countries use child labourers. In World War I he worked as a photographer with the Red Cross. On returning to New York City, he photographed the construction of the Empire State Building. For the rest of his life he photographed government projects.

Steamsfitter, 1921

Child Labour Series by Lewis Hine.
(Many of the captions below were by Hine)

* Click on images for larger view
Pennsylvania Coal Co. Breaker Boys, 1910 

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera.
Lewis Hine
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. 1910

Photo if coal breakers at 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.  Pennsylvania. 1910 

Breaker Boys at  Pennsylvania Coal Mine.  1910

Breaker Boys 1911

November 1908. Lincolnton, North Carolina. "Daniel Mfg. Co

North Carolina cotton mill,  1908 

Boy sweeper 1908

January 1909. Tifton, Georgia. "Workers in the Tifton Cotton Mills. All these children were working or helping, 125 in all. Some of the smallest have been there one year or more." Hines remarked that this mill had the highest percentage of child workers that he had seen. The only child not working in the mill is the boy with the football. He is the foreman's son. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine

February 1912. Port Royal, South Carolina. "Bertha, one of the six-year old shuckers at Maggioni Canning Company. Began work at 4 a.m.

Child seafood packers, Baltimore, 1910

 Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, and a mountain of child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Mississippi. 1912
10 year old (started at 7) Minds baby and carries berries, two pecks at a time

February 1912. Port Royal, South Carolina. "Nine [?] of these children from 8 yrs. old up go to school half a day, and shuck oysters for four hours before school and three hours after on school days, and on Saturday from 4 a.m. to early afternoon. Maggioni Canning Co. ~ Hine

St. Louis "Newsies, 1910

3 A.M. Sunday, February 23rd, 1908. Newsboys selling on Brooklyn Bridge.

Hine self portrait with news boy

Paper Boy ~1908

Waco, Texas. September 1913. "Eight-year-old newsie. Many youngsters get up early to sell papers. One 10-year-old starts out at 3 A.M. every day and goes to school." ~ Hine

 March 15, 1917. Oklahoma City. Jack Ryan is 6-year-old newsie who lives at 126½ West Reno Street

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.

Newsboy asleep on stairs with papers. Jersey City, New Jersey.

A group of newsies selling on the Capitol steps. Tony, age 8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C.  

Hine with newsboy 

October 1913. Dallas, Texas. "Two six-year-old newsboys. Odell McDuffy and Sam Stillman. There are many other of six and seven years selling here." Photograph and caption by Lewis Hine

October 1913. Austin, Texas. "Sunday morning. Paul Luna, 9-year-old newsie who is up at 4 a.m. Sundays." Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine. 
October 1914. Mobile, Alabama. "Seven-year-old Ferris. Tiny newsie who did not know enough to make change for the investigator. There are still too many of these little ones in the larger cities. ~ Hine

March 1909. New Haven, Connecticut. "12-year-old newsboy, Hyman Alpert, been selling three years. Spends evenings in Boys Club." I bet Hy was a pretty good newsie. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

Joseph Severio, peanut vendor, age 11 [seen with photographer Hine]. Been pushing a cart 2 years. Out after midnight on May 21, 1910. All earnings go to his father. Wilmington, Delaware.

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.

Rob Kidd, one of the young workers in a glass factory. Alexandria, Virginia. 
At 5 p.m., boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. One boy remarked, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, West Virginia.  

April 1913. Columbus, Georgia. "Eagle and Phoenix Mill. A 'dinner-toter' waiting for the gate to open. This is carried on more in Columbus than in any other city I know, and by smaller children. Many of them are paid by the week for doing it, and carry sometimes 10 or more meals a day. They go around in the mill, often help tend to the machines, which often run at noon, and so learn the work. A teacher told me the mothers expect the children to learn this way, long before they are of proper age."

Delivery Boy, NYC

December 1908. Dillon, South Carolina. Johnnie, works at Maple Mills. 8 years old. Said "Ain't got no last name" when asked for it. Beginning to "help sister spin."

St. Louis, Missouri. "May 13, 1910, 11 a.m. Adams Express Company. One of the many young boys working as assistants on express wagons.

May 1910. Seaford, Delaware. "This photo shows what was formerly a chicken coop, in which during the berry season the Arnao family live on Hitchen's farm. Seventeen children and five elders live here. Ten youngest children range in age from 3 to 13. On the day of the investigation no berries being picked on Hitchen's Farm. The family went over to the Truitt's farm to pick. Edward F. Brown, Investigator." Photograph and caption by Lewis Hine.

*click on images for larger view

May 1910. Seaford, Delaware. "This photo shows what was formerly a chicken coop, in which during the berry season the Arnao family live on Hitchen's farm. Seventeen children and five elders live here. Ten youngest children range in age from 3 to 13. On the day of the investigation no berries being picked on Hitchen's Farm. The family went over to the Truitt's farm to pick. Edward F. Brown, Investigator." Photograph and caption by Lewis Hine.

Rolling cigarettes with mom 

5-year old Harold Walker picking cotton, Comanche Co. OK, by Lewis  Hine 1916

Lewis Hine

 Boy Bike Couriers

November 1910. Birmingham, Alabama. "A.D.T. boys (telegraph messengers).

*click on images for larger view


November 1913. Huntsville, Alabama. "Pete Henson, 414 C Street. Mother said he was 12 two months ago, but has been sweeping in the Merrimack Mill for seven months, so he began at 11 years. Brother Edward said to be 13 years, but doubtful. Mother said they had no Family Record here and gave me ages from memory." Photograph and caption by Lewis Hine

October 1909. Boston, Massachusetts. 
"Truant hanging around boats in the harbor during school hours."

Bowling Alley boys. Many of them work setting pins until past midnight. New Haven, Connecticut.

August 1908. "An Enforced Rest. Harry Swope, aged 15, 426 Elm Street, Newport, Kentucky. Carrying heavy bundles of paper for a News & Stationery company." 
Photo and caption by Lewis  Hine. 

May 9, 1910. St. Louis, Missouri. "Johnnie Burns, a newsie who sells on Grand Avenue. 9 yrs old. Father says he is uncontrollable. Father also said his 4-year-old twins would be selling soon." Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine.

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine, of the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co. in Alabama. Said he was 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Carries two heavy pails of grease, and is often in danger of being run over by the coal cars." Photograph and caption by Lewis Hine. 
(some of the images are via Shorpy)

Hine photographing kids in slum,  1910

7 year old Alec, 1917

Two girls and a Doll, 1912 

 Game of craps. Cincinnati, Ohio. August 1908.

New York, October 6, 1920. "Baseball -- 'Hot dogs' for fans waiting for gates to open at Ebbets Field." This was Game 2 of the World Series between Brooklyn and Cleveland.

Boys palying New York, 1911 

Italian Immigrant, (Madonna)  Ellis Island 1908

Construction of the Empire State Building N.Y.C

Old timer workman on the Framework of the Empire State Building, 1930

 Empire State Bldg, 1930-31

While photographs may not lie, liars may photograph. 


  1. Awesome pictures. Each photogrpahs have life in it. Excellent job. Thanks for sharing these images.

  2. incredible pictures, greetings from Chile. Thank you so much for this blog.

  3. Thanks everyone for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog and this post!