February 25, 2021
The Working Conditions For Kids Were Subhuman By Today's StandardsThe adorable little boy in this colorized photograph from 1916 was taken by noted American sociologist, advocate for social reform, and photographer Lewis Hine. It shows a five-year-old lad named Harold Walker, hard at work on the family’s cotton farm in Oklahoma. Little Harold, along with his six-year-old sister, Jewel, picked 20 to 25 pounds of cotton per day.
The images of the Walker children that Lewis Hine captured in his photographs were used to fuel the debate about child labor in the United States in the early twentieth century.
Who Was Lewis Hine?
As a young child in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Lewis Hine, who was born in 1874, had to work 13 hours a day for six days a week to help his widowed mother, so he experienced first-hand the horrors of child labor. Hine eventually attended college and became a teacher. He also dabbled in photography. He began to understand that photography could be used to capture the real-life struggles of the poor in America, particularly the children living in poverty. His work photographing immigrants arriving on Ellis Island earned him much acclaim. He was asked to work as a freelance photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. This organization’s goal was to advocate for national child labor laws.