February 25, 2013
Whether it is a painting or photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality. In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated. The average person believes implicitly that the photograph cannot falsify. Of course, you and I know that this unbounded faith in the integrity of the photograph is often rudely shaken, for, while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph. — Lewis Hine (McClymer, 2011). Lewis Hines image of the Breaker Boys in 1910 is a powerful image that successfully focuses on the tragedy of child labor in the 1900s.
Extremely poor working conditions and child labor were also often seen in the industrialization of America. Children, most younger than 15, were a part of the labor force and often worked long and hard hours, performing many hazardous duties such as cleaning machinery (History.com, 2013). The production of coal increased drastically during this time. Energy was needed to run these new factories and the use of wood as a fuel source was not efficient. The coal mining industry was at the heart of child labor during the industrial revolution. It is best articulated by John Spargo, author of the Bittery Cry of the Children. In his book, he states, “I could not do that work and live, but there were boys of ten and twelve years of age doing it for fifty and sixty cents a day. Some of them had never been inside of a school; few of them could read a child’s primer” (Spargo, 1906). Many Americans were becoming better educated and more informed on child labor. However, it wasn't until 1938 that President Franklin Roosevelt gave full protection to children with the Fair Labor Standards Act (Clark-Bennet, Hodne, Sherer, 2013).
Lewis Hine photographed children miles underground to emphasize the claustrophobic and dangerous...