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Children at Work

Founded in 1904, the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) set out on a mission of "promoting the rights, awareness, dignity, well-being and education of children and youth as they relate to work and working." Starting in 1908, the committee hired Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940), first on a temporary basis and then permanently, to carry out investigative and photographic work for the organization. The more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives in the Library's Prints and Photographs Division, together with the often extensive captions that describe the photo subjects, reflect the results of this early documentary effort, offering a detailed depiction of working and living conditions of many children - as well as adults -- in the United States between 1908 and 1924.

Eight-year-old Jennie Camillo A group of berry pickers at Newton's Farm, Bridgeville, Del.

Hine later referred to his photographic work for the NCLC as "detective work." You can see Hine's 5,000 images at the Library by going to the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Scroll through the list of collections until you reach "National Child Labor Committee Collection."

Tens of thousands of extraordinary images from the Library's Prints and Photographs Division are available online at this page. For example, you can view some of Ansel Adams' less well known but equally moving "Photographs of Japanese American Internment at Manzanar" during World War II. In the "Cabinet of American Illustration" are about 4,000 drawings and prints from the period 1850-1930. The "National Photo Company Collection" provides about 1,800 photographs, ca. 1850-1945, of news events in Washington, D.C., with portraits of presidents and celebrities and scenes of social life.

 

A. Lewis Hine, photographer. "Eight-year-old, Jennie Camillo, lives in West Maniyunk, Pa. (near Philadelphia). For this summer she has picked cranberries. This summer is at Theodore Budd's Bog at Turkeytown, near Pemberton, N.J. This is the fourth week of school in Philadelphia and these people will stay here two weeks more. Her look of distress was caused by her father's impatience [?] over her stopping in her tramp ... at our photographer's request. Witness, E.F. Brown, Sept. 27, 1910. Location: Pemberton, N.J," 1910. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-nclc-00034 (color digital file from b&w original print), LC-DIG-nclc-05286 (b&w digital file from original glass negative), LC-USZ62-12870 (b&w film copy negative), LC-USZ6-1198 (b&w film copy negative); Call No.: LOT 7475, v. 1, no. 1103[P&P], LC-H51- 1103

B. Lewis Hine, photographer. "A group of berry pickers at Newton's Farm, Bridgeville, Del. 2 Children are 7 years of age. 2 Children are 8 years of age. 2 Children are 9 years of age. 2 Children are 11 years of age. 3 Children are 12 years of age. 1 Child is 13 years of age. 1 Child is 15 years of age. 6 Children have been working 3 years. 1 Child has been working 2 years. 2 Children have been working 5 years. 2 Children have been working 6 years. 1 Child has been working 8 years. Location: Bridgeville, Del.," 1910. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-nclc-00105 (color digital file from b&w original print); Call No.: LOT 7475, v. 1, no. 1596[P&P]


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