Have you heard of Lewis Hine? And seen his work?
Well, firstly, he’s one of the reasons we use photography as a medium for positive change. Thanks Lewis.
Secondly, he was instrumental to the implementation of Child Labor Laws. Hence why a 6-year old can’t be forced to quit school and go to work in the United States – at least not if you’re a ‘legal’. But if you’re an undocumented worker here in the United States or a child in Ghana, your slave labor is not uncommon (and neither is adult slavery.) Moving on …
According to our Biography.com,
“In 1904, Lewis Hine photographed immigrants on Ellis Island, as well as at the tenements and sweatshops where they lived and worked. In 1911, he was hired by the National Child Labor Committee to record child labor conditions, and he produced appalling pictures of exploited children. During World War I, Hines worked as a photographer with the Red Cross and later photographed the construction of the Empire State Building. He died on November 3, 1940, in Dobbs Ferry, New York.”
(Here’s just a few of his compelling images with original captions.)
Manuel, the young shrimp-picker, five years old, and 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. (LOC)
Freddie Kafer, a very immature little newsie selling Saturday Evening Posts and newspapers at the entrance to the State Capitol…. Sacramento, California (LOC)
Jewel and Harold Walker, 6 and 5 years old, pick 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day. Father said: “I promised em a little wagon if they’d pick steady, and now they have half a bagful in just a little while.” See 4564. Location: Comanche County–[Geronimo], Oklahoma
(TIME Magazine recently commissioned Sanna Dullaway to colorize Hines’ photos. (Hysterical Sidenote: How fitting is her last name for what she does?)
Because Lewis was ‘undercover’, he learned to write with his hand inside his pocket so as to accurately (yet secretively) caption his photographs. Here’s the full collection from the Library of Congress complete with captions and all….
PS: Here in the U.S. (& in many other developed countries), we like to think of slavery as a dead vice of our past. When you unconsciously buy a product from a company that doesn’t adhere to ethical sourcing/manufacturing, you inadvertently support slavery. It’s good to care about that fact…
PSS: He also photographed this famous picture (and many others) of those seriously brave men who worked (above & beyond) to build The Empire State Building…
We think Lewis was quite brave himself. Don’t you?