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Newsboys Club: 1909

October 1909. Boston, Mass. "In the Newsboys Reading Room. Boys seated at tables playing games." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

October 1909. Boston, Mass. "In the Newsboys Reading Room. Boys seated at tables playing games." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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I Remember Carrom

We had a Carrom board growing up in Nebraska in the 60s. On one side was a checkerboard and backgammon triangles. The other side had the setup for playing Carrom. It came with a couple of wooden cuesticks and a bunch of colored plastic rings, plus instructions for several games. In the four corners of the board were net pockets, and we played a billiard sort of game most of the time.

From newsboys to business men

If the 10 Somerset Street address mentioned by Stanton_Square is correct, the address currently is home to Suffolk University Business School, two blocks from the Massachusetts State House. 15 Howard Street, between Andrew and Dudley Squares, looks to be an abandoned building today.

Free Games and Baths

A post at the Looking for Lewis W. Hine Photo Locales blog identifies the location of this photo as the Burroughs Newsboys Building at 10 Somerset Street. Earlier accounts report that the newsboys met on Howard Street.

Bacon's Dictionary of Boston, 1886.

Reading-room for Newsboys and Boot-blacks. 16 Howard Street. Open from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. A resort where books, papers, games, and regular entertainments are furnished.

Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, 1902.

Report of the Newsboys' Reading-Room Association on Howard Street showed the attendance to have been larger during 1900 than for some time past; average attendance per night was 140 boys; total expenses for the year 1900, $1,755; total receipts, $1,643. This association was formed in 1870, and serves as a reading-room for licensed newsboys. Entertainments, games, drawing classes, books and periodicals of all kinds, as well as bathing facilities, are offered the boys as inducements to join. Everything is free.

If Scrabble had been invented and they were playing it

You can bet one of the words challenged was "wuxtry". (Scrabble came along in the 1930s.)

No video games

A little reading, a lot of face-to-face interaction. Those were the days!

Take me out to the Disc Game

It looks like they're playing Carrom, which I've only come across in Asian countries before so it's interesting to see it being played in this context. It's a little like playing pool but with discs instead of balls and I've seen it played with both a finger-flick and with a cue, which seems to fit the evening's activities. It's a real betting game - but probably not here!

[I'm not so sure about that -- gambling newsies were a staple of the Hine repertoire. - Dave]

Making it up as they go

Almost looks like a shuffleboard type of game, and the kid at the third table over is using a pool cue while the matronly lady looks on approvingly. Meanwhile the boy resting his head on his fist has the devil in his eyes.

Reading Room

Ironic title, for kids who, were they not working at such a young age, ought to be in school.

Or perhaps Carrom

Considering the cue used on the far right.

Possibly Pitchnut

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