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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bessie Hicks: 1911

Bessie Hicks: 1911

June 1911. "A Suggestion for Dependent Widows. Mrs. Bessie Hicks, a widow in the mill settlement at Matoaca, Virginia. She has no children large enough to work in the cotton mill, so she is starting a little store in her home." View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

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100 Years too soon

Matoaca is now a suburban bedroom community outside of Peterburg, VA. No sign of a cotton mill.

Poor Bessie was born a hundred years too soon.

Bessie Hicks

Joe Manning again. The link to my story has changed.

Bessie Hicks

This is Joe Manning, from the Lewis Hine Project. I talked to one of Bessie's granddaughters for nearly an hour last night. Bessie lived for 81 years. It appears that the "store" she was planning was an at-home sewing and dressmaking business, which turned out to be her lifelong profession. She was remembered fondly. Some of the information will eventually be posted on my Lewis Hine Project website at:

Yes, Patty, they did. She's

Yes, Patty, they did. She's probably not much older than 25.

You must remember that these were the days of real natural medicine. No antibiotics, no antifungals, no immunizations other than smallpox, no cancer therapies, no antitoxins. Most people in the US didn't reach their 50th birthday and those that did were prematurely aged both inside and out. Imagine going through 10 or 15 life-threatening infections by the time you were 30. Imagine knowing that you had about a 5% chance of dying during or immediately after each pregnancy, no matter how wealthy you were or how clean your attendants were.

Now add to that the debilitating effects of hard physical labour (the idiot who first said "hard work never killed anyone" obviously never worked hard) and you can see how someone at 25 could look so old.

A little store...selling

A little store...selling children!

Young Mother?

Bessie Hicks certainly doesn't look like a current day young mother.

Then again....times were hard and people probably aged much earlier than now days.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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