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The Apprentice: 1911

February 1911. Biloxi, Miss. "Alma Croslen, 3, daughter of Mrs. Cora Croslen, of Baltimore. Both work at Barataria Canning Co. (shucking oysters). The mother said, 'I'm learnin' her the trade.'" Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

February 1911. Biloxi, Miss. "Alma Croslen, 3, daughter of Mrs. Cora Croslen, of Baltimore. Both work at Barataria Canning Co. (shucking oysters). The mother said, 'I'm learnin' her the trade.'" Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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Makes It Worthwhile

Thanks to Joe for this follow-up report. I appreciate his efforts and his keeping Shorpy informed. Learning about these folks is the payback for having to read some of the, shall we say, less than sensitive comments that show up occasionally.

Alma Alves

Well, I just read through the series of comments following the original photo. All I can say is what I've said before: Shorpy fans are the best! Thank you all and thank you, Dave, for giving us this forum.Happy holidays.

Alma Alves, The Apprentice: 1911

“It was hard times back then. That house they were living in looks like a rundown shack. I’d seen some of those shacks down in Biloxi when I was a kid. You could see through the walls when you went in them.” –Joseph Olier, son of Alma Alves (not Croslen)

This is Joe Manning again, of the Lewis Hine Project. I interviewed Alma's son and daughter-in-law. Alma's life was a struggle, but she raised a nice family who loved her, and she lived a long life. You can my story of Alma at:

Re: The Location

The 1910 census indicates that Alma lived in a labor camp on East Beach Street, no house number given.

Curious about the location

Perhaps Mr. Manning can help with this one (BTW, I adore Mr Hine's work. As a student at the University of Southern Mississippi, I worked some with Dr. Deanne Nuwer, who wrote a series of articles about Lewis Hine and his photographs of coastal seafood plants.) As a coast rat, I'm intensely curious: Is there any indication of the location of this photo (ie: street address)? The Barataria plant was at the foot of Reynoir Street, and many of the "barracks-style" houses were on Callivet. However, I don't think they had fences. Thanks for any info, and thanks for posting this one close to Katrina's anniversary.

A long life

Wow, Joe, that's great to learn! It sounds as though little Alma didn't have the easiest of lives -- but she had a family and lived into her eightieth year. We can hope she had her fair share of satisfaction as well as struggle. Rest in peace, Alma.

Apprentice: 1911

Joe Manning again. This is shaping up to be quite a story. Two days ago, I received an email from a Shorpy reader.

“I looked at the 1910 census record for the Croslins and saw that a neighbor, age 3, was named Alma. Her mother was also an oyster opener. Parents given as Peter and Angelina Alvells. In the 1920 census, Peter and Angelina ALVES, with Alma, are still there. In 1930, Peter is gone but Alma Olier and her husband live with Angelina Alves. Alma and Angelina work for a seafood company. Hope this helps in your search. –Sharon”

Boy, did it ever help! Within a few minutes, I had found Alma Alves Olier in the Social Security Death Index. She died in Biloxi in 1987. Before the day was over, I had tracked down Alma’s youngest son and talked to his wife for a few minutes. After I hung up, I went to my computer to print a copy of the photo, so I could mail it out to them. When I did, I accidentally found another photo of Alma, this time with some of her brothers and sisters, identified as the Peter Elvis (obviously Alves) family. Both photos went out in the mail this morning.

So the woman in the first photo, Cora, was a neighbor, not Alma’s mother. It makes sense. From the moment I saw the photo, I wondered why she and Alma didn’t look the slightest bit alike. See the other photo and what I have posted so far at:

A load of laundry

I invite anyone to wash a week's worth of laundry by hand, with only washtubs and a scrubbing board and maybe a hand-cranked wringer, with what water you could carry from the pump two buckets at a time and heat on your wood stove, and with -- if you were lucky enough to afford it -- a bar of Octagon soap which you've flaked with a kitchen knife.

The Apprentice: 1911

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. I just did two hours of searching every data source I could find. Cora and her husband, Henry, are listed in the 1910 census, living in Biloxi. He is a fisherman, she an "oyster opener." Their surname is spelled Croslen. But there is no Alma living with them. In fact, they are listed as never having had any children. Cora and Henry disappear into thin air after 1910. And Alma does not show up in a single data base, ever. Whatever happened to them? We may never know.

I know they are poor...

but don't they ever wash their childrens' clothes?

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