Child Labor, Vintage Dallas Photos, and Lewis Wickes Hine

“Six-year old boy, Louis Shuman, and his 11 year old brother. Dallas Newsboys. The little fellow usually has a brother who makes him do most of the work. Dallas has too many of these little newsies.” Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, from the Library of Congress Archives.

I’ve recently added the Dallas Observer‘s blog, Unfair Park, to my Google Reader. Mainly, it keeps me abreast of the goofiness that is the Dallas City Council. But the blog is wide ranging in its interests. Robert Wilonksy, a long time reporter and now editor for the Observer, has been running a series of posts on Lewis Wickes Hine, a photographer commissioned by the National Child Labor Commission (NCLC) to document abuses of children by employers in the 1910s. The National Library of Congress has recently made available Hine’s photographs for the NCLC. Historian Joe Manning has been tracking down the children in the photographs. He also contacts the families of the children, many of whom have no idea these pictures exist. Manning told Wilonsky, via an email exchange,

I am so grateful for this opportunity. I had no idea that I would be so successful. It’s the most rewarding work I have ever done. The most amazing thing is that most descendants haven’t seen the photos, so it’s a huge deal for them to see their parents or grandparents as children.

One of the reasons I do the kind of work I do is because of the hunt. The movement through documents, in person or online, and the stories those documents tell. I may be looking at how text operates in the periodicals, but I still find those stories infinitely valuable.

Manning’s website documenting his research process and stories he’s collected is here.


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