(Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 1874 - 1940, Dobbs Ferry, New York)
Gelatin silver print
6 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. (16.5 x 11.4 cm)
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Gift of John Coplans
Lewis Hine, considered by many to be the father of modern social documentary photography, spent more than a decade as the official photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Between 1908 and 1921, Hine photographed rural and urban child laborers across the country. The resulting images were used in NCLC pamphlets, exhibits, and magazine advertisements, and helped to transform the nation’s attitudes and policies on child labor and welfare. Hine wrote captions for most of his photos, incorporating facts about the people and places depicted, and often with direct quotes from his subjects. These original captions, where available, are given, unedited, in quotation marks below. “Harriet Cotton Mills. Investigator spent the noon and part of the day around the mill, and saw a very few young children. He was not able to get into the mills, but indications are that there is plenty of child labor here when work is brisk.” Although they very rarely enforced, some child labor laws did exist. When an investigator showed up, children were either hidden from view or coached to lie.