About this artwork
Beginning in 1906, Lewis Hine was employed by the National Child Labor Committee to photograph and investigate scenes of child labor across the country. He produced some five thousand images of deplorable working and living conditions for children—some just four or five years old—in coal mines, cotton mills, canneries, and farms, sometimes posing as a fire inspector or postcard salesman to gain access. Hine composed his images to elicit sympathy from viewers, adding captions noting his subjects’ ages, heights, or work histories. Interested in art as a means to enhance persuasion and critical thinking rather than to create things of rarefied beauty, Hine distributed his photographs in reformist or popular magazines; they were also made into graphic posters and employed as lantern slides in lectures. It was relatively hard to inspire compassion for those in the “street trades,” especially newspaper delivery boys (newsies), whom contemporary literature both valorized and sentimentalized. The committee, however, demonstrated that in no other occupation were children so unsupervised and that the harsh city environment exposed them to physical danger and adult vices. The young boys seen here, smoking like their elders, seem prematurely hardened to life on the street.
Currently Off View
- Lewis Wickes Hine
- Newsies at Skeeter Branch, St. Louis, Missouri, 11:00 a.m.
- United States
- Gelatin silver print
- Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, upper left, in graphite: "1384"; verso, center, in graphite: "Newsboys [sic]"; verso, center, upside-down, in graphite: "2 [?] Col [?] / The [?] Call [?]"; verso, lower right, in graphite: "2 [encircled]"
- 8.9 × 11.5 cm (image); 12.6 × 17.8 cm (paper)
- Restricted gift of Charles and Ruth Levy Foundation