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Bean-Stringers: 1909

Bean-Stringers: 1909

July 1909. Baltimore, Maryland. "Workers stringing beans in the J.S. Farrand Packing Co. Those too small to work are held on laps of workers or stowed away in boxes." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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Great memories over a bowl of beans.

I too was called into service as a child to help snap bushels and bushels of green beans, and shell peas. I don't know about you all but I miss my grandmother and her porch. I sure miss the food she would turn out from that little tiny kitchen. I miss the cool of the evening and the shade of her back porch in the summer. Learned all about the neighbors and every member of my own family. Somewhat biased from time to time but never mean-spirited.
Just girl talk over a bowl of beans.

Goin' to Work with Mommy

I wonder if maybe some of the kids felt special that they got to go to work with their parents. Obviously it wasn't hugely exciting, but I always felt important if my mom or dad ever had to bring me to work with them.

[A lot of the tots with crate-cribs were little brothers and sisters. - Dave]

Stringing green beans

With modern varieties of "string beans: such as Blue Lake, you almost never find any strings in the shells, but I have broken the beans in half, actually threaded them on strings or threads,and hung them up to dry for use later in the year. They taste quite good and somewhat different when re-hydrated and cooked.

My grandma made me do it

In the home canning season in the 40's, I did a bushel or so. Not hard work but boring and harder to do if they were not fresh. Hard to break a limp bean.

Beats coal mining.

This looks like fun compared to the poor kids working the coal mines. Plus, if you ever get a little hungry ...

Cannery Locale

The Baltimore City Directory for 1909 says:

"Farren, J. S. & Co., Inc., ft of Wolfe"

So presumably that would be at the junction of Wolfe and Fell?


Some of those kids look happy, and it's probably not just for the camera.

I work in a court. Everyone looks miserable all the time. Maybe I should bring in beans to string, or maybe we're all just too spoiled today. Well, no maybe about it.



Children were paid for this sort of thing? I feel cheated! I stringed bushels and bushels of green beans, shelled peas and snapped beans when I was a little girl for my Grandmother in the cool of the shade of her back porch.

Oh, I take that back. The homemade pie and ice cream I was rewarded with after my diligent bean efforts was priceless.

Stringing, Snapping and Shelling

One of the things that went on when I was coming up in '50's was that moms would get green beans, snap beans, string beans, butter beans and field peas, either from the grocery or peddlers or a trip to the farm. Several neighbor ladies would sit on a porch in the cool of the evening and string and snap the beans or shell the butter beans and peas. And chat. The kids who were able and willing would help out.

The Good Old Days

Wow. A hundred is not that long in the big scheme of things. Scenes like this help us remember that real human progress can and does happen from time to time. Hopefully the folks on Shorpy a hundred years from now will have some similar reminder to marvel at.

No Strings Attached

What they are really doing is cutting/breaking off the pointed tips of the string beans prior to cooking and canning.

I live in Baltimore. The J.S. Farrand Co. was located in the Fells Point section of Baltimore City. I was unable to get a specific address.

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