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Big & Tall: 1908

Big & Tall: 1908

December 1908. "Catawba Cotton Mills. Newton, N.C. It seems a pity that some of the spinning frames are so large that the children cannot operate them." Glass negative (and sardonic caption) by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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My mom was from the mill hill and we were all required to work at least one summer in the cotton mill before college to reinforce the value of education. It was super-effective! All of us got graduate degrees, a Ph.D. in my case. The lint all over this guy's pants is very familiar.


It's nice seeing a touch of humor from Lewis Hine. His notes seem so dour - and who can blame him given his subject matter.

Never changed much.

I started working at a cotton mill at the age of 16 in Georgia. The machinery in this photo looks very much like it still did by 1981. Working the machine wasn't the hard part, it was the dust and the lint. If you didn't wear a mask, you were at risk for all kinds of pulmonary problems later in life.

Shiny shoes

Impressed with this guy's grooming. He may be covered in lint, but look at those shoes.

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