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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Marvin and Owen: 1910

Marvin and Owen: 1910

St Louis, Mo. Truants selling papers at Jefferson & Washington. 11 a.m. Monday May 9, 1910. Smallest boy is Marvin Adams, 2637 Washington Avenue. Said he got his papers "off'n de other feller." Other boy is Owen McCormack, 2651 Washington Avenue. View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Marvin & Owen

Using the search words "colored" and "Negro," I found only six, possibly seven black children in the Hine Library of Congress child labor collection whose names were given. This would not be surprising, since even child labor jobs, as "undesirable" as they seem now, were generally off limits to black people. Thus, blacks are rarely represented in the Hine child labor collection. Like all his photos, he recorded the names when he was able to.

Marvin & Owen

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. I am also intrigued by the appearance that Hine did not acknowledge the black boy. But I have a theory. In the caption, he says, "(Marvin) said he got his papers "off'n de other feller." Other boy is Owen McCormack."

Could it be that "de other feller" is the black boy? And then having mentioned Marvin and "de other feller," Hine names the third boy as "other boy is Owen McCormack."

What with the racial conditions in the south (including St.Louis) at that time, it would be doubtful that the black boy would have given his name to a white man.

Any thoughts on this?

[There are plenty of black kids in the Hine photo archive, with names given probably just as often as for the white kids. - Dave]

Marvin & Owen: 1910 Census

The 1910 census shows Marvin living at 2637 Washington Avenue. His mother runs a boardinghouse, his father works in a shoe factory. Marvin is listed as 8 years old and has two sisters and a brother.

The 1910 census shows 13 year old Owen McCormack lodging at 2651 Washington Avenue with his mother and 2 sisters. His mother is a saleslady in a department store; one sister is a cashier in a grocery store. Their race is given as white.

[Aha! Thank you. - Dave]

Owen

Perhaps a sign of our times to see how quickly we make assumptions about the past and assign motivations based on the schemas we've developed in our own minds about what the past was like. As a budding historian, I hope I remember this little episode as I "interpret."

Sign of the Times

Sign of the times that he doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the black boy in his caption. Sad.

[Owen most likely is the boy on the right. See below. - Dave]

[Or maybe not! See above. - Dave]

The Other Boy?

Excuse me, I see two other boys. Is one of them not a real boy? I know you're just reporting what you see, but it still bugs me.

[There's a similar caption on another photo showing Marvin and the boy on the right, with the boy on the left barely visible in the background. Look for it later this week. - Dave]

 
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