Photographers John L. Spivak and Lewis Hine

Examination of the meaning behind Lewis Hine's photographs.

"Child Labor in the Carolinas" - A.J. McKelway - Charities and the Commons

Some human documents resulting from the investigations made in the cotton mills of North and South Carolina


"Lewis Hine, well-known to readers of this magazine by his photographs of social conditions in New York city and elsewhere, was sent by the National Child Labor Committee to investigate conditions in North and South Carolina and record the results with his camera. In November, 1908, he went to Charlotte, N.C., the center of the cotton mill region of the south. Over fifty percent of the cotton spindles and looms of the south are within one hundred miles of Charlotte. Mr. Hine visited nineteen and investigated seventeen mills, taking 230 photographs. . ."

"Day Laborers Before Their Time" - Lewis W. Hine - Charities and the Commons


"If, with all these historical, social, and material advantages, such conditions can prevail among the newsboys and newsgirls of Hartford as are portrayed in the accompanying illustrations from life, no argument needs to be stated to prove the need of such an organization as the National Child Labor Committee, in the process of some of whose investigations the photographs were taken upon the streets of Hartford."

"Child Labor in Gulf Coast Canneries: Photo-Graphic Investigation Made February, 1911" - Lewis W. Hine - Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science


". . .By actual count of children at work, I found I25 boys and girls whom I judged to be from three to eleven years of age; and at least half of the canneries were working either a small crew or none at all on the days I visited them. This count I checked up constantly by means of ages given me by some of the children and their parents. From statements of age made by them, I have record of thirteen children three to five years old; twenty-five, six to eight years old; and fifteen, from nine to eleven; a total of fifty-three from three to eleven who told me their ages, and as I was getting photographs at the same time, too much questioning was hazardous. . ."

"Children of the Mills: Re-Reading Lewis Hine's Child-Labour Photographs" - George Dimock - Oxford Art Journal

There is then, in Hine's early work, an implicit counter statement to the Progressive reformist ideology he embraces - a subtle but nonetheless distinct resistance to the tendency of reformers to make objects of their underclass 'cases.'


". . .Lewis Hine photographed for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) between 1906 and 1918. This remains his best known and most celebrated work. Within a social history of the Progressive Reform Movement which rose to prominence in the first decade of the twentieth century, the child labour photographs served as visual, empirical evidence of the widespread employment of children in a variety of industrial and commercial enterprises in the United States: textile mills, coal mines, glassworks, commercial agriculture and the street trades. At the same time that Hine's work helped define the values, interests and agendas of Progressive reform, it was largely determined by them. The movementcomprised a flexible and changing set of alliances at the local, state and national levels, among teachers, suffragists, health-care workers, civil servants, city planners, social workers, labour leaders, journalists and reform politicians. . ."

"Documentary Photographs in John L. Spivak's Odd Amalgam of Investigative Reporting and Fictional Portrayal of Chain Gangs in 1930's Georgia" - Ronald E. Ostman and Berkley Hudson


"At ground level, the camera's eye looks into the face of a prisoner, hogtied and on hard-packed dirt. Ropes bind his hands. Straps and ropes wrap his legs. A pickaxe shoved between his arms and the backs of his knees tightens the punishment. With discomfort, he rests his close-shorn head on the dirt. He wears torn, black-and-white convict stripes. If there was a hell on earth in 1930 and 1932, then investigative journalist John Louis Spivak depicted it with a novel based on his reporting. Using straightforward photographs to authenticate Georgia Nigger, Spivak attempted to sear into the national consciousness the brutal image of chain gangs of the American South. . ."