Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day - Women & children working at home in early 1900s America by Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine 1874-1940



"Mrs. Totora, makes from $2 to $2.50 a week making lace for a contractor. Husband and two children, 4 and 7. Mrs. T. said, "I rather work for a factory, they pay more." New York City, December 1911"


Lewis Wickes Hine, born in 1874 in Wisconsin & died in 1940, was an American sociologist & photographer. Using his camera as a tool for social reform, his photographs were instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States. His photos were accompanied by descriptions supplied by witnesses, which are related in the captions here.  As disturbing as the photos are the captions.  In many of these in-home photos, the family seems to be wearing their best clothing & seems to be honored to have their picture taken, while many of the descriptions belittle the family.

In 1908-1912, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Over the next decade, Hine documented children working at home & in American industry to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice. Photos are at the Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001.



"Home of Mrs. Schiaffo. She is a contractor, getting lace from the home workers in the neighborhood. Woman in black has just brought in some work and the lace goes to a Mfg. Co. On the couch with Mrs. S. is 7 year old Millie, who is learning to make lace. New York City, December 1911"



"Mrs. Palontona and 13 year old daughter, working on pillow-lace in dirty kitchen of their tenement home. They were both very illiterate. Mother is making fancy lace and girl sold me the lace she worked on. New York City, December 1911"



"Mrs. Mauro, and family working on feathers, make $2.25 a week. In vacation two or three times as much. Victoria, 8, Angeline, a neighbor, 10, Fiorandi, 10, Maggie, 11. Father is a street cleaner, and has a steady job. New York City, December 1911"



"Picking nuts in dirty basement. The dirtiest imaginable children were pawing over the nuts eating lunch on the tabel, etc. Mother had a cold and blew her nose frequently (without washing her hands) and the dirty handkerchiefs reposed comfortably on table close to the nuts and nut meats. The father picks now. New York City, December 1911"



"A family picking nuts. Mother nursing baby while picking nuts. Was suffering with a sore throat. Rosie, 3, hanging around; Genevieve, 6, Tessie, 6, picks too. Make $1.50 to $2 a week. New York City, December 1911"



"Mrs. Marengin. Pepino, 10 years old, cracking nuts with her teeth. The mother had just been doing the same. Carmine, 8, the boy about the same age works too. Some of them work until 8 or 9 P.M. Boy holding baby is foolish. Husband works in railroad. New York City, December 1911"



"Mary Prenda, 13 years old. Short-sighted girl with glasses working after school on flowers with Mary's aunt. New York City, December 1911"



" Mrs. Salvia, Joe, 10 years old, Josephine, 14 years, Camille, 7 years, picking nuts in a dirty tenement home. The bag of cracked nuts (on chair) has been open all day waiting for the children to get home from school. The mangy cat (under table) roamed about over everything. Baby is sleeping in dark inner bedroom (3 years old). New York City, December 1911"



"Mrs. Lucy Libertime and family, Johnnie, 4 years old, Mary 6 years, Millie, 9, picking nuts in the basement tenement. Mary was standing on the open bag holding the cracked nuts, with her dirty shoes on, and using a hugh dirty jack knife. On the right is a cobbler bench used by shoemaker in this room. They live in dark inner bedrooms, and filth abounds in all rooms and in the dark, damp entry. New York City, December 1911"



 " Mrs. Battaglia, Tessie (age - 12 years), Tony (age - 7 years), 170 Mulberry St. Rear house, 5th floor. Garment workers. Husband crippled by a fall, tends to basement. Mrs. Battaglia works in shop except Saturdays, when the children sew with her at home. Get 2 or 3 cents a pair finishing men's pants. Said they earn $1 to $1.50 on Saturday. Father disabled and can earn very little. New York, January 1908"



"Basso family, making roses in dirty poorly lighted kitchen. Pauline, 6 years old, works after school. Peter, 8, works until 8 P.M. Mike, 12 years old, until 10 P.M. Father keeps a rag shop. New York City, January 1912"



 "Averzano family, photo taken 1:30 P.M. March 6, a school day and Josephine said she wasn't going to school this week on account of the work. I like to work and I like to go to school too. Our investigator reports her as a truant. The eight year old sister can speak no English. New York City, March 1911"



"Making dresses for Campbell kids dolls in a dirty tenement. The older boy, about 12 years old, operates the machine when the mother is not using it, and when she is using it, he helps the little ones break the threads. New York City, March 1912"



"Garment workers. Katrina De Cato, 6 years old, Franco Brezoo, 11 years old, Maria Attreo, 12 years old, Mattie Attreo, 5 years old. 4 P.M. New York City, January 1910"


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