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Early to Work: 1909

Early to Work: 1909

June 10, 1909. 6 a.m. Warren, Rhode Island. "Boys going to work in Warren Manufacturing Company. Plenty of youngsters here." View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

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Warren, RI

A few replies to the excellent comments accompanying this excellent photo:

  • I don't know if it still stands. -- The mill building does indeed still stand.  Its last factory use was as an American Tourister plant before manufacturing operations moved to the Dominican Republic.  The building served as Tourister's headquarters for several years after that.  It is currently home to a mixed variety of small manufacturing businesses but that will end soon. The property was recently sold and is being redeveloped into condominiums.

  • That kid in the middle, looking straight at the camera, is the star here -- I couldn't agree more.  Another interesting thing about him is that it looks like he's just finished a pretty good growth spurt.  His pant and arm cuffs are riding much higher than all the other boys/men shown in the photo.

  • I was also interested in two other items in the photo:
    • The wealthier-looking gentleman in the background in the derby ... Perhaps he was a manager or other supervisor.

    • The slightly older boy to the left who's holding a "lunch bucket" that his mom must have made up for him.  Anyone who's ever wondered about the origin of the term "lunch bucket" needs only to look at this photo.

I will be ordering a print of this to hang framed on my office wall. Very moving, particularly for those of us who drive by it every day.

Warren Manufacturing Co.

The original Warren Manufacturing cotton mill was built in 1847 and was destroyed by fire in 1895, wiping out the town's economy. The building you see in the background here must have been only 12 or 13 years old at the time of this photo. I don't know if it still stands.

A Boy Alone

That kid in the middle, looking straight at the camera, is the star here: all the others are bit players - darker, out of focus. That guy on the right, taking a drag on his cigarette, looks to me like he enjoys giving the kids a hard time, especially our little hero in the middle. Look at the way the tall kid on the right of the group looks across at him.

That's not a happy boy. Hope his life got better.

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