Lewis Hine, ‘Sweepers and mule-room boys in Royal Mill, River Point, R.I. Boy left hand end, Manuel Mites has been in mill 2 years. Clinton Silvey and Louis Perry (centre boys) have been in mill one year and said they are now 12 years old. Boy on right hand Manuel Silvey been in mill 1 year. (They could not speak English.) Location: River Point, Rhode Island.’, 1909, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Anonymous Fund purchase

About Lewis Hine

For American photographer Lewis Wickes Hine, photography was a tool to “show things that had to be corrected.” At the beginning of the 20th century, he realized the storytelling power of documentary photography, and his images of children working in shocking situations would become instrumental in the passage of child labor laws. To create these images—he made over 5,000 negatives for the National Child Labor Committee over the course of 10 years—Hine often snuck into factories to conduct his work, noting personal details about the children, including their ages, heights, and the hours that they worked, and portraying them in frank, directly head-on portraits. In addition, he created a now-famous series of images of workers atop the Empire State Building during its construction in the 1930s for the series “Men at Work”.

American, 1874-1940, Oshkosh, WI, United States, based in Dobbs Ferry, NY, United States