In 1908 Hine left his teaching position at the progressive Ethical Culture School in New York to become a staff photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. The same year, he described his pictures in a reform journal as "graphic representation of conditions and methods of work, through pictures for exhibits, reports, folders, magazine and newspaper articles, and lantern slides." Over the next decade Hine made thousands of negatives-often undercover-of children working in mills, sweatshops, factories, and various street trades, such as the delivery boy pictured here. Through a steady accumulation of specific, idiosyncratic facts, the photographer hoped to reveal the larger, hidden patterns of exploitation upon which the American city was rapidly expanding. More important, his reports and slide lectures were not meant solely as tools for labor reform but as ways of triggering a more profound, empathetic response in the viewer, one that would cause him to reconsider his relationship to society.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil in unknown hand(s), verso TC, CR: "2837", "N2857 [sideways]"