Allow me to begin by conceding, as so often on must do, my complete ignorance with the career of Lewis Hine prior to reading this article at Jacobin.
As befits the mission statement of any photographer, it’s the image that sets the hook, in this instance the three old boys/young men/hardened adults: “11:00 A.M. Monday, May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. St. Louis, Missouri.”
These images are difficult to fathom nowadays, and the stoic demeanor of Hine’s subjects reveals the drastic effects of premature toil. Children are shown operating dangerous work machines on their own, carrying heavy pieces of equipment, and smoking with their friends during breaks — all with weatherworn facial expressions.
Learn more at the Library of Congress, but don’t forget those faces.
Lewis Hine, Photographer of the American Working Class, by Billy Anania
Few American photographers have captured the misery, dignity, and occasional bursts of solidarity within US working-class life as compellingly as Lewis Hine did in the early twentieth century.