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Shorpy and His Friends

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, an oiler on the tipple at Bessie Mine" -- near Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. Entire uncropped image.

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, an oiler on the tipple at Bessie Mine" -- near Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. Entire uncropped image.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Happy birthday Shorpy

Glad to know about Shorpy, this worked kid, who served to his nation at the First War World, today in his birthday I give my sincere greetings to him.

[Thank you very much! - Dave]

I have never seen this

I have never seen this picture by Hine. This is brilliant, everything about this picture just captures me! The look of pure disgust and determination on the boys faces just kills me! There is something about the way the way Hine decided the capture them in this triangular formation with the point coming at the viewer. The dirt and grime that covers the boys as well adds another dimension to the work. The position and the way Shorpy is holding his harms along with his gang of followers behind him make it seem as if they are going to come out of the picture and attack. They are ready for anything that anyone throws at them, on moment away from strike! Once again this is fabulous!

It's that time of year again...

Shorpy's birthday is today! Happy 113th birthday, Shorpy!

Records of the Past

I love this quote by Lewis Hine:

"Perhaps you are weary of child labor pictures. Well, so are the rest of us, but we propose to make you and the whole country so sick and tired of the whole business that when the time for action comes, child labor pictures will be records of the past."

Which is what his pictures ended up being.

[I wonder if he'd be surprised at all he accomplished. - Dave]

Happy Birthday!

Today is Shorpy's birthday! 112 years old today! Happy birthday!

[OMG. Thank you for remembering! And Happy Birthday, Shorp! - Dave]

He Cannot Tell a Lie

Before reading "What We Think We Know" about Shorpy, I assumed, from Hine's caption, that Shorpy was younger than 14, and lying in order to work. But he was born in 1896, so at the time of this picture he WAS 14! I am very glad to know that Shorpy was telling the truth.


What is he holding?

[An oil can. - Dave]

Shorpy's Arms

I don't think his arms are "permanently out away from his body." I think that the thing he's counterbalancing the weight of that thing he's holding. His arms do look weird though.

Fate and time . . .

We sons of coal miners can only reflect on what might have been if born a 100 years ago. Now I know why my parents were stalwart Democrats . . : >)

What an amazing site.

And what an amazing bunch of young fellows.


I found your site via Thomas Hawk's blog and I love it. This one is my favorite photo of Shorpy.

[Thanks! And thanks to Thomas Hawk. - Dave]


Your site is perfect!

[Aw shucks. You are most perceptive! - Dave]


Thanks for that.

Miners' caps


Any idea what the cards or ?? are on the front of the caps?

[Lamp holders - Dave]


They all look set with grim determination. It's a character asset that not many of today's youth share. Considering what people went through back then I would wonder if it's even appropriate to call them "kids". Pictures like this really make me consider that ... Thanks for posting these!

Shorpy's Posse

The crop looks good. The other boys look like Shorpy's posse, and Shorpy is the greasiest of them all.

[The white kid on the far right is Dave, also pictured here. - Other Dave]

Oiler? or Oilee.

Sure looks like he got more oil on him than on or in the equipment. Good quality on the resolution.

shorpy's arms

Notice how even in the photos where he's not carrying buckets his arms are permanently out away from his body?

How sad for those kids back then.

But sadder today that kids have gone so far the other direction that they consider setting the table & cleaning their rooms a form of child abuse!!


To make Shorpy stand out more.


Can I ask why you cropped the photo?

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