A Child's Labor
"It is worthy of particular remark that in general women and children are rendered more useful, and the latter more easily useful, by manufacturing establishments that they otherwise would be." Alexander Hamilton, 1781

"Hello Bill: What do you think of this? It is a flashlight of the machine where I work." W. Kloas, 1912

The tragedy of child labor in the world today grew in part from seeds planted during the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. With the demand for unskilled and semi-skilled workers to serve the new machines of mass production and provide services to the growing middle class coupled with the family's need for income in a day of low wages, many children were forced to forgo their education and join the adult world of their parents in the workplace. With the advent of photography, the "occupational photograph" emerged early on as a style of portraiture in which subjects interpreted their work through pose and/or with the inclusion of tools of their trade to celebrate the Victorian work ethic. With the inclusion of children into the labor force, they too were recorded in photographs that interpreted their work, no matter how humble, as well. It is important to remember as you look at these examples, that these portraits were made to proudly celebrate the child's work. It was not until the early 1900s that photography was used by people such as Lewis Hine to record the abuses of this practice for a growing reform movement. Please let us know your thoughts about these images. Reproductions of these and other photographs from the Historic Graphics Collection are available for purchase. Please contact us for more information.




The Bobbin Boys
Sixth-plate daguerreotype

The Pottery Worker
Ninth-plate Ambrotype

Woodcutter's Helper
Sixth-plate Ambrotype

Lamp Oil Filler
Sixth-plate Ambrotype

The Housekeepers
Carte de Visite

Chairmaker
Carte de Visite

The Candyseller
Carte de Visite

The Knife Sharpener
Carte de Visite

The Picker
Tintype

The Breaker Boys
Tintype

The Paperboy
Carte de Visite

The Telegrapher
Tintype

The Capenter's Helper
Cabinet Card

Firewood Cutters
Cabinet Card

The Coal Haulers
Cabinet Card

The Shoeshine Boy
Cabinet Card

2002-2009; images may not be reproduced without the written permission of Historic Graphics.



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