(Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 1874 - 1940, Dobbs Ferry, New York)
Gelatin silver print
6 1/2 x 5 in. (16.5 x 12.7 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. “Carolina cotton mill worker and his family all are working.” In the South, many mill workers were former sharecroppers and tenant farmers whose farmlands were exhausted. Just as children had worked on the farm, they were expected to work in the mills to help support their family. Extremely low adult wages made it impossible for one or even two working parents to support a family.