The Observer and the Observed, child labor photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine

The Observer and the Observed

The above photo is one I found while looking for something else. The caption reads John Howell, An Indianapolis Newsboy Makes $.75 some days. Begins at 6 A.M., Sundays. (Lives at 215 W. Michigan St.) Location: Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s from Lot 7480 by Lewis Wickes Hine, a 3 album, 861 print collection by taken from 1908-1924 for the National Child Labor Committee.

Photographs show primarily newspaper sellers (including boys, girls, and a few adult “newsies”), bootblacks, messenger and delivery boys, and food vendors, but other service workers such as bowling alley pinsetters, movie theater ushers, delivery wagon drivers, and one youthful automobile chauffeur in Oklahoma are also included. Images include posed portraits; work activities, emphasizing hours (including night work) and weather conditions in which children worked; recreational activities (“rough-housing,” street games); habits considered potentially damaging to children (unsafe streetcar riding practices, smoking, spending earnings on movies); and facilities and activities offered by organizations such as the Newsboys’ Protective Association (e.g., reading rooms, showers). Some images document street life in the city–including outdoor markets, signs, and modes of transportation. Locations include: Alabama; California; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Indiana; Kentucky; Massachusetts; Missouri; New York; New Jersey; Ohio; Oklahoma; Rhode Island; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; Washington, D.C. Also included are photographs of exhibit panels that use the images to protest child labor practices in the street trades.

Pretty dang cool pictures from a vanished time when Sonny & Pete started work at 6 AM, five yr old Frances Lance sold papers in front of beer ads, and newsboys battled the twin ills of smoking and “the movie habit“. I think it can also be said that Lewis Wickes Hine had some mad photographic skillz.

You can search the entire collection of the NCLC too.

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One thought on “The Observer and the Observed, child labor photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine

  1. farlane says:

    While I was working on a post of a photo by Hine of some beet farmers in Michigan, I found a cool video about Lewis Hine on YouTube that you can watch above!

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