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Lewis W. Hine

Hine grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a young man he had to care for himself, and working at a furniture factory gave him first-hand knowledge of industrial workers' harsh reality. Eight years later he matriculated at the University of Chicago and met Professor Frank A. Manny, whom he followed to New York to teach at the Ethical Culture School and continue his studies at New York University. As a faculty member at the Ethical Culture School Hine was introduced to photography.

From 1904 until his death he documented a series of sites and conditions in the USA and Europe. In 1906 he became a photographer and field worker for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). Undercover, disguised among other things as a Bible salesman or photographer for post-cards or industry, Hine went into American factories. His research methodology was based on photographic documentation and interviews.

Together with the NCLC he worked to place the working conditions of two million American children onto the political agenda. The NCLC later said that Hine's photographs were decisive in the 1938 passage of federal law governing child labor in the United States. In 1918 Hine left the NCLC for the Red Cross and their work in Europe. After a short period as an employee, he returned to the United States and began as an independent photographer.

One of Hine's last major projects was the series Men at Work, published as a book in 1932. It is a homage to the worker that built the country, and it documents such things as the construction of the Empire State Building. In 1940 Hine died abruptly after several years of poor income and few commissions. Even though interest in his work was increasing, it was not until after his death that Hine was raised to the stature of one of the great photographers in the history of the medium.
Frank F. Gibson, 1305 Linden St. Western Union Telegraph Co. Messenger No. 7. 14 years of age. 1 year in service. Visits houses of prostitution. Guides soldiers to segregated district. Smokes. Still at school and works from 8:30 P.M. to 12:30 A.M. Investigator, Edward F. Brown.  Location: Wilmington, Delaware / Photo by Louis [i.e. Lewis] W. Hine, May, 1910.
1897
1897
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1930
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1930
1,384 Media in collectionpage 1 of 14

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes .Arbeidere portrettert under oppføringen av Empire State Building. New York. .NMFF.003710

Ivey Mill, Hickory, N.C. Little one, 3 years old, who visits and plays in the mill. Daughter of the overseer.

Trained as a sociologist at Columbia University, Hine gave up his New York City teaching job in 1908 to become a full-time photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Created four years earlier, the r... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Slovak gra..h- Elis Is-1905.Slavic Mother & Child, Ellis Island (George Eastman House).Portrait of three women and a baby. Just arrived to Ellis Island along with hundreds of other immig... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Portrait of a mother and child. Just arrived at Ellis Island along with hundreds of other immigrants that day. In search of a better life. USA 1905..This image, an iconic and evocative mother... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes..Portrait of an Italian mother and child. Just arrived at Ellis Island along with hundreds of other immigrants that day. In search of a better life..USA 1905.."Lewis Hine, Passionate jou... more

Mill Children #440, South Carolina

Trained as a sociologist at Columbia University, Hine gave up his teaching job in 1908 to become chief investigator and full-time photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). The mission of the p... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Boy with coat in hand is 11 years old. Been there 9 months. Started at 50 cents a day. Now gets 60 cents. Loray Mill. When I sweeps double space I gets 90 cents a day, but it makes you work. ... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Boy at warping machine. Been there 2 years. Clyde Cotton Mill. Location: Newton, North Carolina, USA 1908..NMFF.003475

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Flashlight photo of children on night shift going to work at 6. P.M. on a cold dark December night. They do not come out again until 6:00 A.M..Childworkers on their way to a night shift at Wh... more

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Little spinner in Bibb Mill No. 1, Macon, Ga. She was so small she had to climb up on to the spinning frame to mend broken threads. See also photo 488. Jan. 19, 1909. Location: Macon, Georgia.

Ellis Island Immigrant Portraits

Hine, Lewis Wickes.Two of the "helpers" in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga. They work regularly. Location: Tifton, Georgia, USA 1909. .NMFF.001734

Jo Lehman, a 7 year old newsboy. 824 Third Ave., N.Y. City. He was selling in this Saloon. I asked him about the badge he was wearing. "Oh! Dat's me bruder's," he said. Location: New York, New York.

Trained as a sociologist at Columbia University, Hine gave up his teaching job in 1908 to become a full-time photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. The success of the reform agency, created four y... more

Addie Card, 12 years. Spinner in North Pownal Cotton Mill. Girls in mill say she is ten years. She admitted to me she was twelve; that she started during school vacation and now would "stay". Location: Vermont

Trained as a sociologist at Columbia University, Hine gave up his teaching job in 1908 to become a full-time photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. The success of the reform agency, created four y... more