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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

All in the Family: 1908

All in the Family: 1908

December 1908. Dillon, South Carolina. "Maple Mill. Bertie Collins (girl). Has been spinning three years. Runs six sides, 60 cents a day. Rudolph Collins. Has doffed three years. Is 12 years old. Three others will join the ranks soon as they grow a bit." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

The family in 1910

Just for kicks, I looked up the Collins family in the 1910 US Fed Census for Dillon Co., SC and this is what I found:

Manning Township
ED 67, Page 41B

Line 97 (starts family)

Collins, Ebenezer, 70, b. SC employee in cotton mill
Collins, R???ster??, 62, b. SC, 15 kids born/11 living, married 50 years
Collins, Rudolph, 16, b. SC, employee in cotton mill
Collins, Bertha 14, b. SC, employee in cotton mill

cont to next page

Collins, John H, 12, b. SC, odd jobs
Thomas, Frank 21 (son-in-law), ??
Thomas, Laura (daughter) 19, b. SC married 5 years

Drying on the porch

One of the articles drying on the porch has (what appears to be) E.L. Pitman Naling Co. on it. Anyone have any info on this? Was it a flour sack or something of that sort being repurposed?

[It says "Pitman Milling" -- a flour sack. - Dave]

Totally different Dillon now

Dillon is also the home of South of the Border, that wonderful tourist trap on I-95. It might not be so different, though. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was raised in Dillon; the Wall Street Journal reports that his childhood home is now in foreclosure.

Sunday Best

Judging by two pairs of shoes in the middle this was not their daily wear but dress for a special occasion: a photograph. That said, where are the men?

Shiny Shoes

They may have been millhands, but they must've had a little extra cash to tend to their shoes! Boy look at 'em! They are in great condition compared to other photos of mill workers.

The Collins Family

These folks look like they are a lot better off than the New Madrid, Missouri sharecroppers in the 1938 series of photos.

Everyone, with the exception of the toddler is at least clean and their clothing is in good repair. The house appears sound as well.

I think a good think to keep in mind is that in 1908 there were no Government Aid programs and in 1938 there were lots of them.

[The reason being that people like those Missouri sharecroppers needed them. - Dave]

Difficult Life

In 1908 there were no government programs to help poor families. If you were too young to work in the mill you helped at home. This is when there were extended families living together under one roof. The woman in the back of the picture looks like she has worked a hard life and could not afford to put up with "slackers". Yes, I would agree she was not one to trifle with. What you did in the summer determined how well you did in the winter.

The Eyes

I believe it's a safe bet the old girl on the porch means business and is not to be trifled with.

Right Stuff

This group appears better off than many that have been shown before. They are all wearing shoes, they are well-dressed and clean (except for the toddler who appears to enjoy playing in the dirt). Most important, they all look quite healthy. I think they will have a bright future.

Their Future Is . . .

already set out for them in the mills, and they're not even out of diapers yet. I almost said "what a pity," but this family, like millions of others, raised their kids, sent them to school, then some went on to college and up the ladder. They DID have a future, but it wasn't handed to them, thank God.

 
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