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About the Photos

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 • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Young Pete: 1913

Young Pete: 1913

November 1913. Huntsville, Alabama. "Pete Henson, 414 C Street. Mother said he was 12 two months ago, but has been sweeping in the Merrimack Mill for seven months, so he began at 11 years. Brother Edward said to be 13 years, but doubtful. Mother said they had no Family Record here and gave me ages from memory." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Sad little boy

Some of the kids in the child labor photos on this site have a hard and flinty look in their eyes. This one looks like life has already broken him.

Pete and C Street

I live in Huntsville. I am going to look for the memory of Pete Henson at 414 C Street.

It is what it is...

No self-pity, my name is Pete,
If I don't work, then I don't eat.

Hello, Pete

Such haunting eyes. I'm honored to make your acquaintance.

Poor Pete

I remember being so proud at age 13 when I secured a paper route for my hometown weekly. I delivered 100 papers twice a week and considered it hard work. Poor Pete, he knew real work at an early age. No lighthearted fun for him. What a grim life!

Reality check

I am going to stop whining about what I percieve to be my my own financial woes now.

The view from 2009

The sobering thing is that those kids were working to make sure the family ate. Computer games, cars and the latest phone fad were still some way off.

He might be right this time...

Mr. Hine was frequently skeptical about the ages of the kids in his pictures and was frequently wrong about it.

I think he's right to doubt this kid. Even taking into account poor nutrition, etc. The boy only looks about 9 or 10 to me.

Can we really imagine what it means?

I could cry if I see pitures like this one. Children without childhood. Thanks for all the great photos (watching since more than two years)!

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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