Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Categories: Children | History | North America

After the American Civil War, the availability of natural resources, new inventions and a capacious market provoked a rapid development of industry. The demand for labor also increased, and at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century, many children joined the ranks of workers. Wages in factories were negligible, so children often had to work to help their parents earn at least enough for food. In 20 years, by 1910, the number of working children over the age of 15 increased from 1.5 to 2 million.

These little workers rarely experienced the joys of youth. Such a luxury as going to school to gain knowledge and a chance to start a better life was rarely given to them. Hard work caused irreparable harm to the child's health. The children suffered from underweight, stunted growth, spinal curvature, tuberculosis and bronchitis (especially those who worked in coal mines and cotton plantations), not to mention physical and psychological fatigue.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

New York photographer Lewis Hine (Lewis Wickes Hine) believed that photography could tell the public about this situation. He traveled around the country and filmed children working at various enterprises, trying to record their stories or at least their age.

Employers hired children because the pay for their unskilled labor was less than that of adults, and their small hands were better suited to work with small tools. Immigrants and newcomers from small settlements often sent their children to work or worked with them.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Dverovoy is a worker who opens and closes the doors to the mine workings so that the ventilation scheme of the mine is not violated, West Virginia, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

At the entrance to a coal mine, West Virginia, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

At the Brown Mine, West Virginia, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

At the Turkey Knob mine, West Virginia, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Frank, 14 years old. He worked at the mine for 3 years, and spent a whole year in the hospital when he was hit by a trolley and his leg was crushed.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

A boy cleans the crumbled rock, Red Star mine, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

A worker at the Bessie mine, Alabama, 1910.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Dave, trolley pusher, Alabama, 1910.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Jim Mcknulty, 15 years old, 1911.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Miners, Pennsylvania, 1911.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Bud boys — ore sorters, 1911.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

The butoboys worked hunched over the gutters for 12-14 hours every day.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

They sorted the coal and shale that came from the mine.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

A miner boy named Angelo Ross. Claimed to be 13 years old, which is unlikely.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Harley Bruce, a worker at the Indian Mountain mine, Tennessee, 1910.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Arlie Fankins, 14, worked at the Barnesville mine, West Virginia, 1908.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

12-year-olds Basil Roberts and James Hopper pick zinc from waste at the Aurora mine, Missouri, 1910.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Willie Breeden, 14 years old.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Boys smashing coal, 1911.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

James O'Dell pushes the trolley.

Child labor in twentieth-century America: photographs of children in coal and zinc mines

Miners at the end of the working day.

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