[Composite Photograph of Child Laborers Made from Cotton Mill Children]
Lewis Hine (American, 1874–1940)
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.1 x 11.3 cm (6 5/16 x 4 7/16 in.)
Frame: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.) (Framed with FI.47.2, .3, .4)
The Photography Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Not on view
From 1908 to 1918 Hine traveled throughout the United States documenting the dismal working conditions of children in factories, textile mills, canneries, and coal mines. In the employ of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), he made hundreds of photographs to support the Progresssive campaign to bring about social and legislative reform, but unlike anything else he produced is this set of four composite portraits of child laborers in Southern cotton mills, each of which blends two different figures from photographs Hine had made for the NCLC. Although Hine never published the composites during his lifetime, he may have adopted the technique as a means of generalizing his observations about the damaging effects of factory work on young bodies—the stunted growth, premature aging, illness, injury, and exhaustion that he recorded in image after image.