Photographer and Investigator, Lewis Wickes Hine

In 1908, Hine was hired by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) to assist in documenting the exploitation of children as laborers in American industry. For ten years, he photographed and carefully documented the dates, locations, ages and if possible, the names of children he found working in various industries including factories, street vending, mines, mills, as well as in their own homes. It was a dangerous undertaking as his investigations were considered a threat by the various industries. Many times he resorted to pretending to be a fire safety inspector or selling bibles, post cards, or machinery.

His prolific work of over 5000 photographs was instrumental in crafting the laws prohibiting and regulating the labor of minors as well as passing laws regarding mandatory education.

Hine’s photographs are compellingly rich in detail and poignancy and difficult to colorize. Although I’m sobered by this sad chapter in American history, it’s an amazing opportunity to peek into the nooks and crannies of people’s lives over 100 years ago.

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