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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 • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Campbell Kids Kids: 1912

Campbell Kids Kids: 1912

March 1912. "Making dresses for Campbell Kid Dolls in a dirty tenement room, 59 Thompson Street, New York, 4th floor front. Romana family. The older boy, about 12 years old, operates the machine when the mother is not using it, and when she operates, he helps the little ones, 5 and 7 years old, break the thread." View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Campbell Kid Doll

For those wondering what the dolls look like, a detail below from here.

Dirty?

Of course, Hine was there and we were not...

Campbell Kid Dolls

In most of the advertisements by Campbell Soup until the late 1940's, "The Kids" along with a four line poem promoting a favorite soup, appeared faithfully in the advertising media. Dolls of Campbell Kids were offered in 1910 as promotional items and were a hit. Through the years, the dolls have become popular collectors' items. [Link]

campbell's kids

yep, they were soup commercial dolls.

I see that Lewis Hine's is

I see that Lewis Hine's is at it again with his pejorative captions. I like seeing his photos of New York's Lower East Side, but Hine has got a bit of a loose screw about things being "dirty."

http://www.shorpy.com/node/2213

Hine's agenda

Were his subjects aware of Hine's mission? It makes me sad to think they dressed in their Sunday best and invited him into their homes to be photographed, only to have him describe them in some pretty unflattering terms. Or did he believe that the ends justified the means?

treadle Singer

Treadle sewing machines can be had for around $100. The thread coming up from the floor looks very thick, which is odd for sewing doll clothes. Regular sewing thread would barely be visible. She's probably using an industrial cone rather than a spool but, like Tracy said, it would have to be in some sort of holder to prevent it from rolling around. Wish I could see behind the little boy's chair!

What are Campbell kids? Like

What are Campbell kids? Like the Campbell soup kids/dolls?

Sewing

It looks like they are making doll onesies. The boy on the right has a string of backs and fronts with yokes. Mama is stitching the backs and fronts together at the shoulder seams. The boy on the left is turning collar sections right side out.

Interesting that mama does not have a spool of thread on her sewing machine. She may be using an industrial size spool feeding from the floor but unless she has a heavy stand the spool is likely to bounce around and snarl.

Singer

What I wouldn't give for that sewing machine.

My mom has a brown metal Singer that belonged to her grandmother, and it's outlasted every plastic sewing machine we've ever had.

Doll clothes manufacture

My grandparents, both Italian teenaged immigrants, met and fell in love in a doll clothes factory in 1917. This family, also Italian, are doing the same thing. I always imagined the clothes they were sewing to be a bit more fancy; but who knows? Thanks for digging this one up. (Where do you find these photos?!?)

Gypsies?

Could he possibly mean that this is a "Romani" family? That is the proper term for gypsies. I come from a bit of Romanes background, and these children look to have a bit of the Rom in them. It would be unusual for most Rom to stay in a tenement - at least in the long term.

Re: Campbell Kids

Oops! The boys I thought were "twins" are five and seven years old. Scratch that thought.

Campbell Kids

I understand Lewis Hine's mission was to persuade Congress about the evils of child labor, but from today's perspective it seems unfortunate that he frequently used the term "dirty tenement room." It was a cold water, walk-up flat; they did the best they could. This one doesn't look dirty to me. The children are clean in clean clothes. And the two boys in stripes must be twins.

 
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