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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
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Child Labor Reform Exhibit 2

Photo of boy being paid

But until the documentary photographs of Lewis Wikes Hine appeared in popular and progressive publications in the teens, the public turned a blind eye to the pervasive and cruel exploitation of children in the work place. Hine has been hired by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) - a social welfare organization founded in 1904 - to document the working conditions of children who worked for pennies in fields, factories, textile mills, sweatshops, coal mines, canneries and on city streets.

From 1911 to 1916, Hine traveled across southern and eastern states capturing thousands of unflinching images that exposed the heartless treatment of children. More often than not, Hine had to resort to trickery to gain access from resistant, even hostile, employers. He posed variously as a Bible salesman, industrial photographer, fire inspector and insurance agent to get candid shots, sometimes with a hidden camera. Children might be removed from view before he arrived or he might be barred from the premises altogether. When Hine couldn't find a way in, he waited outside the gates and photographed the children as they entered and exited.