Harrowing pics reveal how 1900s US kids slaved in factories from the age of THREE and lost limbs in machinery accidents before child labour was abolished

HAUNTING pictures show the terrible plight of American child labourers in the 1900s.

In 1908 Lewis Hine became a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee in order to achieve a single goal: ending child labour.

Child labour
Giles Edmund Newsom, 11, had two of his fingers ripped off by machinery at the mill he worked in
Library of Congress

He travelled all over the United States with his camera in the belief that he could bring about real change if the public saw the appalling conditions that children were made to work in.

But factory owners who benefited from child labour threatened Hine, forcing him to go undercover disguised as a fire inspector or bible salesman.

The pictures that he captured show the dreadful life that these children were forced into.

Giles Edmund Newsom was 11 years old when he fell on to a spinning machine at the mill he worked in, which crushed and tore out two of his fingers.

Child labour
Young girls were also routinely put to work in horrible industrial conditions
Library of Congress
Child labour
Paper boys smoking in St. Louis, Missouri
Library of Congress
Child labour
Frank P, 14, had both of his legs torn off in an accident in a coal mine in West Virginia
Library of Congress
Child labour
This boy worked in a mine from 7:00am to 5:30pm every day
Library of Congress
Child labour
This 15-year-old lad worked at Greel’s Shoe-Shining Parlor in Indianapolis until 11pm
Library of Congress
Child labour
One in six children worked in 1900, including these two at the Economy Glass Works in Morgantown, West Virginia
Library of Congress
Child labour
The three Arnao family children were three, six, and nine where snapped here
Library of Congress

Another boy, Frank P, had both of his legs cut off by a motor car in a coal mine in West Virginia when he was just 14.

And it wasn’t just the little lads that were put to work.

One of the photos shows Maud Daly, 5, and Grade Daly, 3, working for The Peerless Oyster Co. in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Another shows a nameless girl in the mill where she had been working for at least a year.

Child labour
These boys were so small that they had to climb on the spinning frame to fix broken threads at a mill in Georgia
Library of Congress
Child labour
Thousands of children worked in mines like these boys at in Pennsylvania
Library of Congress
Child labour
This boy’s job, for ten hours a day, was to open and close this door in a coal mine
Library of Congress
Child labour
Ferris, 7, sold newspapers in Mobile, Alabama
Library of Congress
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When asked by Hine if she liked cotton picking, Callie Campbell, 11, replied: ‘No, I don’t like it very much’
Library of Congress
Child labour
A ten-year-old working on a tobacco farm in Conneticut
Library of Congress
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Jennie Camillo, eight, picking cranberries in New Jersey
Library of Congress
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Rosie Biodo, ten, was tasked with picking berries and minding a baby at Browns Mills, New Jersey
Library of Congress

When Hine asked her how old she was, she replied: “I don’t know.”

She then later told him confidentially: “I’m not old enough to work, but I do just the same.”

Long hours and back-breaking work were the everyday reality for children in the early twentieth century.

Census data from 1900 says that around 1,752,187 children in America between the ages of five and ten were in some kind of “gainful employment”.

That represents about one in every six children living in the states at the time.

Although Hine’s pictures were vital in changing public opinion towards reform of child labor laws, it wasn’t until the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that “oppressive child labor” was federally outlawed in America.


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