Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lewis Wickes Hine: Child Laborer Photographs from Lowell Mass

In 1908 Lewis Hine was contracted by the National Child Labor Committe as an investigative photographer. His job was to document child labor practices within American industry in an effort end the practice. Mr. Hine, who I believe visited Lowell in October of 1911, took several photographs of the children that were employed in the mills within the city, many of which were Franco-American. I browsed through the collection and there are many surnames that are familiar to me, Courtois, Therrien, and Boucher, are just a few.

You can view the NCLC photographic collection online at the Library of Congress PPOC, just type Lowell into the search bar.

On November 1st, at 7:00 pm, historian, author, and genealogist, Joe Manning, will be giving a presentation at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center Theater, as a part of the Moses Greely Parker Lecture Series, entitled “The Lewis Hine Project: Tracking down the Lives of Child Laborers”
“Whatever happened to that child worker?” Motivated by this question, Joe
Manning has identified some of the more than 5,000 child laborers
photographed in the early 1900s by Lewis Hine, and has tracked down and
interviewed their descendants. Manning will show some of Hine’s historic photographs, tell the stories of the children in them, and talk about the exciting process of searching for descendants, most of whom were not aware of the pictures of their parents and grandparents

I'm looking forward to attending this presentation.

Here is one of my favorite photographs from the collection.
# Title: Alexander Durand, 35 Tucker Street, next boy in middle of picture appears 12 years old. Is in mill room No. 2. Joseph Courtois, 33 Tucker St., at the right Alex. appears about 13 years old. Works in the spinning room. Majorie Bonclair, at left of Alex. see 2592. Location: Lowell, Massachusetts.
# Creator(s): Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer
# Date Created/Published: 1911 October.
# Medium: 1 photographic print.
# Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-nclc-02378 (color digital file from b&w original print) LC-USZ62-97581 (b&w film copy negative)
# Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
# Call Number: LOT 7479, v. 4, no. 2593 [P&P]
# Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


  1. This is a fascinating project. A rough time for these kids but life was hard for everyone back then. We have come a long way in most parts of the world.

  2. Hi Lori, thanks for stopping by. This project just fascinates me too. I can't wait to find out how Joe was able to track down the descendants of some of these children!

  3. I had not heard of this project until I recently came across Joe Manning's website. The photos are terrific and the hunt for the subjects is fascinating. I would have love to hear his presentation!

  4. Hi Heather, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, I missed Joe's presentation in Lowell that evening. We had just has a snow storm the previous weekend and our power was out that night. I have heard, though, that he is going to be participating the The Bread & Roses Centennial Celebration in Lawrence in 2012. Hopefully, the event information will be published on his website soon. Take care!