Indeed, workers have been the backbone of the industrial age and their calloused hard-working hands helped sculpt modern industries today. Although, it’s difficult to imagine that many of those hard-working hands belonged to children who belonged to mines, factories and mills rather than school classrooms.
This is a story of child labor in the 1900s as described and portrayed by acclaimed photographer and sociologist Lewis Hine. His work with the National Child Labor Committee brought about changes in policies surrounding the issue and helped shaped society’s views. His documentation of the underaged members of America’s labor backbone showed just how child laborers lived and worked back then.
Hine’s photographs of these child laborers are still relevant to this day. Joe Manning, a social worker from Florence, Massachusetts has devoted his time and effort in tracing the young children in Hine’s photographs. Manning said that he was enamoured with the idea of the young laborers toiling day in and out but took little recognition in the formation of the country’s economic history. He reached out to the surviving family of the children and documented what had happened to them.
“She told me about how hard it was working in the mill, that she had to quit school in the fourth grade to go to work, about her father disowning her, and how it was so awful not to have your parents’ love.” – Great-Granddaughter of Addie Card
Manning’s complete work can be found on his website Mornings on Maple Street. You can browse through numerous pictures of Lewis Hine at the website with additional commentary about the child workers and their lives.