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"Power house mechanic working on steam pump," 1920


Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an Americanmarker sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.

Early life

Lewis W. Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsinmarker in 1874. After his father died in an accident, he began working and saved his money for a college education. Hine studied sociology at the University of Chicagomarker, Columbia University and New York Universitymarker. He became a teacher in New York Citymarker at the Ethical Culture School, where he encouraged his students to use photography as an educational medium. The classes traveled to Ellis Islandmarker in New York Harbor, photographing the thousands of immigrants who arrived each day. Between 1904 and 1909, Hine took over 200 plates (photographs), and eventually came to the realization that his vocation was photojournalism.

Photojournalism



In 1907, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor in American industry to aid the NCLC's lobbying efforts to end the practice. Between 1906 and 1908, he was a freelance photographer for The Survey, a leading social reform magazine. He took all these pictures to show the country the cruelties of child labor.

Child laborers in glassworks.
Indiana, 1908


In 1908, Hine photographed life in the steel-making districts and people of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker for the influential sociological study called The Pittsburgh Survey. During and after World War I, he documented American Red Cross relief work in Europe. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Hine made a series of "work portraits," which emphasized the human contribution to modern industry. In 1930, Hine was commissioned to document the construction of The Empire State Buildingmarker. Hine photographed the workers in precarious positions while they secured the iron and steel framework of the structure, taking many of the same risks the workers endured. In order to obtain the best vantage points, Hine was swung out in a specially designed basket 1,000 feet above Fifth Avenue.

"Addie Card, 12 years.
Spinner in North Pormal [i.e., Pownal] Cotton Mill.
Vt."


During the Great Depression, he again worked for the Red Cross, photographing drought relief in the American South, and for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), documenting life in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. He also served as chief photographer for the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) National Research Project, which studied changes in industry and their effect on employment. Hine was also a member of the faculty of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

The Library of Congressmarker holds more than five thousand Hine photographs, including examples of his child labor and Red Cross photographs, his work portraits, and his WPA and TVA images. Other large institutional collections include nearly ten thousand of Hine's photographs and negatives held at the George Eastman Housemarker and almost five thousand NCLC photographs at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Later life of Lewis Hine

In 1936, Hine was selected as the photographer for the National Research Project of the Works Projects Administration, but his work there was never completed.

The last years of his life were filled with professional struggles due to loss of government and corporate patronage. Nobody was interested in his work, past or present, and Lewis Hine was consigned to the same level of poverty as he had earlier recorded in his pictures. He died at age 66 on November 3, 1940 at Dobbs Ferry Hospital in Dobbs Ferry, New Yorkmarker, after an operation.

Notable photographs

  • Child Labor: Girls in Factory (1908)
  • Steam Fitter (1920)
  • Workers, Empire State Building (1931)


See also



References

External links




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