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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

A Lonely Job: 1911

A Lonely Job: 1911

January 1911. A lonely job. Waiting all alone in the dark for a trip to come through. Willie Bryden, a nipper, lives at 164 Center St. in South Pittston. It was so damp that Willie said he had to be doctoring all the time for his cough. A short distance from here, the gas was pouring into the mine so rapidly that it made a great torch when the foreman lit it. Willie had been working here for four months, 500 feet down the shaft, and a quarter mile from there. (Shaft #6, Pennsylvania Coal Co.) Walls have been whitewashed to make it lighter. January 16, I found Willie at home sick. His mother admitted that he is only 13; will be 14 next July. Said that 4 months ago the mine boss told the father to take Willie to work, and that they obtained the certificate from Squire Barrett. (The only thing the Squire could do was to make Willie out to be 16 yrs old.) Willie's father and brother are miners and the home is that of a frugal German family. View full size. Photograph (5x7 glass negative) and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Re: In the dark

The kid, like all the other miners, is wearing a lantern on his head with a giant flame. So it's not "absolutely dark." Nobody had to buy candles.

In the dark

Just to emphasize that comment about being in the dark; if the boy wanted any light while he was waiting he would have to buy a candle, and that would pretty quickly put a dent in his wages. So typically they would sit in absolute darkness except when a load came past. It's hard to imagine how we'd cope with such a thing today.

 
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