Early 20th Century Child Laborers

Between 1908 and 1924, Lewis Wickes Hine photographed children for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), a reform-minded organization which sought to document children’s work environments. Ultimately, Hine’s photographs helped bring about stricter labor laws. Here are 25 images from this project. posted on

1. Boys at Lehr Glass Works in West Virginia

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in October 1908.

2. 13 year old embroiderer in New Jersey

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in 1923. Hine noted that she had been working since 4pm and expected to stop at 10:30pm. She would earn 90 cents when she completed the dress.

3. Greek bootblacks in Indianapolis

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in August 1908.

4. 16 year old boy working the night shift in Indiana

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in August 1908.

5. 13 and 14 year old berry carriers in Delaware

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on May 28, 1910. When the photographer asked one of the girls her age, she initially responded that she was 12 years old before her mother told her to say she was 14.

6. Young children stringing tobacco in Connecticut

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on August 3, 1917. The photographer reported that there were approximately 41 children ranging from 10-15 years old working for the South Windsor company.

7. 10 and 12 year old mill spinners in North Carolina

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in November 1908.

8. Boy holding a door open in a mine

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in January 1911. He noted that the boy had to wait alone in the dark and the dampness of the mine was making him cough.

9. Girls running a warping machine in North Carolina

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in November 1908.

10. Boys working on a tobacco farm in Kentucky

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on August 21, 1916. The mother of the five year old boy pictured in the foreground commented: “He worms and he suckers. Quite a worker but he aint old enough to go to school yet.”

11. Miner boy on his way home from work

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in October 1906. The boy had been working in the mine for three years. He had been hospitalized once after his leg was crushed by a coal car.

12. Women and girls in New York City sweatshop

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on February 21, 1908. He speculated that the youngest girl pictured is 14 years old.

13. Young farm workers in the Arnao family

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on May 28, 1910. School was in session and the mother expected the children to work for 15-20 more days before returning. The youngest boy was 3, the elder 6, and the girl 9.

14. Family of itinerant cotton pickers in Oklahoma

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine on October 11, 1916.

15. Boys cutting sardines in Maine

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in August 1911. The slippery conditions made injuries inevitable. One of the boys commented: “The salt gits in the cuts an’ they ache.”

16. 8 year old Maine cannery worker with injured finger

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in August 1911.

17. Sweeper with broken wrist

Photographed by Lewis Wicke Hines on June 20, 1916. Manuel Costa Maiata was sent to the Union Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts after slipping on a banana peel.

18. 8 year old girl running home with injury

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in August 1911. Phoebe Thomas had just cut the tip of her thumb off while cutting sardines in a factory.

19. Boy sweeper in front of carding machines, Indiana

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hines in October 1908.

20. Mill housing conditions in Providence, Rhode Island

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hines on November 23, 1912.

21. Newsies waiting for the evening paper distribution

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in February 1910.

22. 4 and 5 year old girls picking cotton in Texas

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hines in October 1913.

23. Boy operating boring machine

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in September 1913. The boy claimed another child recently bored half his hand off.

24. Young boy working in a mule-spinning room

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in April 1909. Hine speculated that the boy was 11 or 12 years old.

25. 3 year old girl and two boys hulling berries

Photographed by Lewis Wickes Hine in May 1910.

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