Friday, July 13, 2012

And the end of child labor...

The next image in the Summer Virtual Series was one that helped to end the use of child labor.

This photo of a young lady, working as a spinner in a cotton mill, was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine. This particular picture was taken in 1908 at Vivian Cotton Mills in Cherryville, North Carolina. Hine took many photographs around child labour and poverty, from 1900 to 1937. Since Hine was a sociologist and photographer, he used his camera and photos for social reform, especially in the area of child poverty.

Lewis Hine.
He felt especially drawn to child labour, being a school teacher himself, to which he started working with The National Child Labour Committee in 1908. In the time he worked with the Committee he made his way around the nation capturing the true nature of poverty and children in the workplace. In a lecture he gave during his travels, Hine stated that, "Perhaps you are weary of child labour pictures. Well, so are the rest of us, but we propose to make you and the whole country so sick and tired of the whole business that when the time for action comes, child labour pictures will be records of the past." This statement would prove to be true when, with the help of Hine and the National Child Labour Committee, the Keates-Owens Act came to pass.

A flyer made to end child labor
Although the Keates-Owens Acts was deemed to be unconstitutional, it set the stage for the progressive movement towards the dissolve of child labor in the United States. Eventually in 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which set a limit to the age of workers in certain circumstances. Staying true to his words, the pictures that Hines took, this young woman and of others, became a record of the child labor past.

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