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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Smiths: 1911

The Smiths: 1911

May 1911. West Point, Mississippi. "Dependent (able-bodied) Parents. Smith family. Three girls (in front) work in the textile mill. This boy and others work uptown. Came from an Alabama farm six months ago. Smallest spinner runs two sides. 'Father just putters around. Don't work steady'; 'We all like the mill work better'n the hot sun on farm.' House barren and run down." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

What beautiful children

I have to say, one of the "improvements" of the 21st century is that people age better i.e. I would bet the parents of these cute kids are younger than me (I am in my 50's) but they look SO much older (and more dour-life must have been hard) The little boy in the front left is angelic looking in white and I bet the girl on the far right is holding her arm that way so that history will admire her lovely bracelet and ring (probably treasured items).


I find this a very moving photo. Despite their circumstances they've absolutely done their best to present themselves the finest way they could.


Additionally, despite the state of obvious squalor, they have buttoned shirts, laced shoes, and bows in their hair. Many families today, even middle class families, would struggle to look so sharp on a good day. I applaud the Smiths.


It seems there is an ethereal Smith in the background. I am surprised nobody else has commented. Creepy.


"Father just putters around. Don't work steady"
Read: dad drinks all day while the kids bring home the cash to eat and keep roof over head.

The Outsider

Wonder what the story is about the girl alone in the background trying to blend in with the wall boards. Maybe she is not a Smith but a visitor or perhaps she is the shy one in the family. Also I'm somewhat offended by Hine's judgmental tone regarding the "house is barren and rundown." Trying to provide for a family of eight or nine or more in 1911 didn't leave much time for Better Homes and Gardens. Of course maybe he was implying that Dad should make himself useful in other ways besides "puttering."

Girl behind the rocker

Curious to say the least

Sgt Schultzesque - "I hear nothing"

No one mentioned the woman in the background on the porch. Could she be the crazy relative living in the attic yet denied by all?

They must be pretty well off

They all have shoes except the baby. Not common in many of these pictures.

And yet

All are well dressed and nicely turned out. Suit is pressed, nice shoes, etc. And not just on this photo. A sign of the times? Or a lack on our part?


This family looks to be a notch above the other Hine family portraits.All are fairly clean and with the exception of the youngest they all have good shoes !

If Looks Could Kill

Judging by the looks on their faces, it doesn't appear as if any of the Smiths are much enamored of Mr. Hine.

Trail Dust Steakhouse

Looks like the young man was in Dallas recently, by the look of his tie. They've been cutting them shorter and shorter every year since then.

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