Skip to main content
Select Source:

Hine, Lewis (1874−1940)

Hine, Lewis (18741940)


Lewis W. Hine was a pioneer of social documentary photography. His most sustained and influential body of work consists of over 5,000 photographs made between 1906 and 1918 for the National Child Laborommittee (NCLC) publicizing the prevalence and harshness of child labor in the United States. Born and raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Hine first took up photography around 1903 as an extension of his work as a teacher at the Ethical Culture School in New York City. A Progressive educator, he soon came to embrace the camera as a tool of "social uplift" a generation before the social-activist photographers and filmmakers of the 1930s coined the term documentary.

In 1904, Hine began taking photographs on Ellis Island, portraying, in a dignified and sympathetic fashion, a representative sampling of the great influx of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. These images, made under difficult circumstances with bulky, primitive equipment, presented a powerful, humanist argument for open immigration at a time when nativist sentiment against the foreign-born was on the rise.

Hine's work for the NCLC took him to thirty-one states and the District of Columbia. He photographed from Maine to Texas, in the Plains states and the Far West, documenting children of all ages engaged in wage labor as textile workers, telegraph messengers, street vendors, newsboys, mine workers, glass workers, oyster shuckers, shrimp pickers, sardine packers, cigar makers, cigarette rollers, garment workers, lacemakers, and agricultural laborers. Hine's photographs were accompanied by meticulous field notes detailing the relevant sociological data: names and ages of the children, time and place of employment, hours worked, wages earned, length of employment, working conditions, and family circumstances.

As an impassioned middle-class reformer, he sought to convince an enfranchised liberal audience, by way of incontrovertible empirical evidence, of the harmful effects of child labor. At the time, both business leaders and working-class parents defended the social efficacy and economic necessity of child labor. Hine's photographs originally appeared on posters and in newspapers, bulletins, and periodicals advocating national legislation that would abolish most forms of commercial child labor and mandate a public-school education for all working-class children. However, despite compulsory education laws in most states, such policies were not enacted until the 1930s.

Hine worked mostly with a hand-held, wooden box camera, producing 4" × 5" and 5" × 7" glass-plate and film negatives from which he most often made contact prints, although enlargements were also common. Hine continued to make sociologically informed photographs for the remainder of his career, working for the American Red Cross in Europe during World War I and for the Survey, an early journal of social work. In 1930 he made a notable series of photographs documenting the construction of the Empire State Building. In this later phase of his career, Hine sought to portray in idealized terms what he came to see as the inherent dignity and heroic stature of the American worker and craftsperson.

As a freelance photographer without an independent income, Hine's work necessarily reflected the agendas of the clients for whom he worked. Just as Hine's NCLC photographs reflected the politics of that organization, so his 1933 photographs of the Shelton Looms, commissioned by its owner, represented the interests of management. That being said, Hine's child labor photographs were the result of a particularly fruitful and serendipitous conjunction of a talented and dedicated photographer with a well-organized and highly motivated social movement. Collectively, these images constitute an invaluable resource in the study of early-twentieth-century, working-class children in the United States. They have also served as a model and inspiration for documentary photographers.

See also: Economics and Children in Western Societies: From Agriculture to Industry; Photographs of Children; Progressive Education.

bibliography

Aperture. 1977. America and Lewis Hine: Photographs 19041940. Millerton, NY: Aperture.

"Lewis Hine." 1992. History of Photography 16 (summer): 87104.

Rosler, Martha. 1989. "In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography)." In The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, ed. Richard Bolton. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Seixas, Peter. 1987. "Lewis Hine: From 'Social' to 'Interpretive' Photographer." American Quarterly 39, no. 3: 381409.

Stange, Maren. 1989. Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary Photography in America, 18901950. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Trattner, Walter I. 1970. Crusade for the Children: A History of the National Child Labor Committee and Child Labor Reform in America. Chicago: Quadrangle Books.

George Dimock

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hine, Lewis (1874−1940)." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hine, Lewis (1874−1940)." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/children/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis-1874-1940

"Hine, Lewis (1874−1940)." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/children/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis-1874-1940

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

The Veterans Administration

The Veterans Administration (VA) is an independent federal agency administering benefits and programs to veterans;it achieved cabinet‐level status as the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1988. Established by Congress in 1930, the VA absorbed three separate agencies: the Bureau of Pensions, established in 1833; the National Homes of Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, founded in 1866; and the Veteran's Bureau, created in 1921.

Brig. Gen. Franklin T. Hines served as the first administrator of the VA in 1930–45. Originally called to Washington in 1923, this Utah native reformed the Veterans' Bureau, which had been mired in scandal under Charles R. Forbes, a political crony of President Warren G. Harding. Hines's longevity in office stemmed from his nonpartisanship, hard work, and efficiency, as well as his ability to maintain good relations with Congress and national veterans' organizations, especially the American Legion.

In 1944, Congress vested the agency with responsibility for administering the G.I. Bill for over 16 million eligible veterans. In 1945, President Harry S. Truman named Gen. Omar N. Bradley to head the agency and carry out a series of much needed reforms for its larger roles. Under Bradley's three‐year tenure as administrator, the agency embarked on a massive program of hospital construction and made major improvements in the delivery of medical care to disabled veterans, including the establishment of a Department of Medicine within the agency and the formal affiliation of VA Hospitals with major medical schools.

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower implemented the recommendation of a private consultant to streamline the VA and created three major departments within the agency: Medicine and Surgery; Insurance; and Benefits. This newly configured VA administrated less generous packages of G.I. Bill benefits for veterans of wars in Korea and later Vietnam. In 1973, the VA also assumed responsibility from the Department of the Army for military cemeteries.

During the late 1960s, the VA, geared to serving an aging population of veterans from two world wars, came under criticism for failing to provide adequate acute care for servicemen and ‐women injured in the Vietnam War and for a general insensitivity to the particular needs of veterans of that war. For example, many veterans and their supporters protested the reluctance of the agency to acknowledge the long‐term effects of the herbicide Agent Orange. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Max Cleland, a double amputee, as the first Vietnam veteran to head the VA.

In 1988, Congress elevated the VA to a cabinet‐level department, and in 1989, Republican congressman Edward J. Derwinski of Illinois became the first secretary of Veterans Affairs. After the Persian Gulf War (1991), the Department of Veterans Affairs, along with the Department of Defense, was criticized for failing to recognize or treat “Gulf War syndrome,” allegedly caused by exposure to biological and chemical weapons.
[See also Toxic Agents; Veterans: Overview.]

Bibliography

Davis R. B. Ross , Preparing for Ulysses: Politics and Veterans During World War II, 1969.
Richard Severo and and Lewis Milford , The Wages of War: When America's Soldiers Come Home—From Valley Forge to Vietnam, 1989.

G. Kurt Piehler

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Veterans Administration." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"The Veterans Administration." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/veterans-administration

"The Veterans Administration." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/veterans-administration

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hine, Lewis

Lewis Hine, 1874–1940, American photographer, b. Oshkosh, Wis. Hine dedicated much of his photographic career, which began shortly after he bought his first camera in 1903, to exposing in sharp, painful images the social evils of the industrial revolution in the United States. He photographed the poverty of newly arrived immigrants and the street and factory life of working children. Many of these were published in such early collections as Charities and the Commons (1908) and Day Laborers before Their Time (1909). Hine's visual emphasis on their plight helped to bring about the passage of child-protection legislation in 1916. Hines also detailed the effects of war on the land and people of Europe, the complex relationship of man and machine, the construction of the Empire State Building (Men at Work, 1932), the effects of drought in the South, and the influence of a Tennessee Valley Authority dam program on the life of a rural community. Hine's work reflects concern, compassion, and a crusading idealism. The power of his images placed him at the forefront of 20th-century documentary photographers.

See International Museum of Photography, Lewis Wicke Hine's Interpretive Photography: The Six Early Projects (1978).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hine, Lewis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hine, Lewis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

"Hine, Lewis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hine, Lewis

Lewis Hine

BORN: September 26, 1874 • Oshkosh, Wisconsin

DIED: November 3, 1940 • Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

Photographer; social reformer

Lewis Wickes Hine was a teacher-turned-reformer who exchanged his classroom for a camera and set about changing the world, one child at a time. Hine's most famous photos featured children at work—in fields, factories, mills, and anywhere else young children were forced to work. His photographs were not effective because he was expertly skilled, but because the raw quality of his work reinforced the tone of harshness and despair that accompanied child labor. He was a pioneer in the field of photography as art.

"I wanted to show things that had to be corrected."

Hine also used his talent to document relief efforts after World War I (1914–18), the construction of the Empire State Building, and the plight of women workers in the 1930s. Because of Hine's work, America has a recording of its evolution throughout the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. The Gilded Age was the period in history following the Civil War and Reconstruction (roughly the final twenty-three years of the nineteenth century), characterized by a ruthless pursuit of profit, an exterior of showiness and grandeur, and immeasurable political corruption. The Progressive Era was the period that followed the Gilded Age (approximately the first twenty years of the twentieth century); it was marked by reform and the development of a national cultural identity.

The student becomes the teacher

Lewis Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on September 26, 1874. His father, Douglas Hull Hine, was a veteran of the Civil War (1861–65). Hine's mother, Sarah Hayes Hine, was a teacher. Douglas Hine died in an accident in 1892, forcing Hine to find his first job at the age of eighteen. He found work in a furniture upholstery factory and worked thirteen hours a day, six days a week. This exhausting schedule (seventy-eight hours weekly) earned him $4 a week.

Over the course of the decade, Hine worked several odd jobs. Every job was virtually the same: long hours and little pay. These frustrating experiences gave Hine firsthand knowledge of the world of the working-class poor. He worked alongside child laborers; he knew their lives intimately. This knowledge motivated him to want to make a positive change for children.

Hine wanted something better for himself as well, so he enrolled in extension courses at the University of Chicago while still living in Oshkosh. During this time, he met Frank Manny, a professor at the State Normal School in Oshkosh. Manny saw in Hine ability fueled by motivation, and he encouraged Hine to pursue his education. Hine became a teacher and had the great fortune to study with two of the most famous educators of the era: Ella Flagg Young (1845–1918), who became the first female superintendent of an American school in 1909; and John Dewey (1859–1952; see entry), an education reformer.

When Manny took a job as superintendent of New York's Ethical Culture School in 1901, he hired Hine to be the nature study and geography teacher. Manny unknowingly set Hine on a path that would change his life when, in 1903, he gave Hine a camera to use as an experimental teaching tool. Hine was immediately fascinated with the camera and taught himself how to use it. Almost instantly, Hine realized the power of a photograph to tell a story. Throughout his life, he would improve his picture-taking technique and experiment with various styles of photography.

Creates first photo documentary

Hine designed a project for his students, most of whom were immigrants (people who permanently moved from one country to another) from Eastern Europe. The purpose of the project was to teach the children respect for the multicultural atmosphere that filled New York during the early 1900s. In an effort to help his students understand the impact immigration was having not only on the immigrants themselves but also on American culture, Hine made several trips with his camera to Ellis Island, the port of entry for immigrants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The first of these trips took place in 1904; the last, in 1909.

With each visit to Ellis Island, Hine instinctively knew he was embarking on a journey that would seriously affect his life. By the time the documentary was completed, Hine had gathered together a large collection of photographs related to the immigrant experience. These photos were eventually published in various books.

Hine married Sarah Rich in 1904 (they would have one son, Corydon, in 1912) and continued teaching at the Ethical Culture School until 1908. In 1905, he completed work on his master's degree in pedagogy (the study of strategies, techniques, and approaches used in the classroom) and graduated from New York University. Despite this busy schedule, Hine managed to establish a sideline income by submitting photos on a regular basis to educational magazines, including Elementary School Teacher and the Photographic Times. He wanted to encourage other educators to use photography as an educational tool.

During this time, Hine attended the Columbia School of Social Work, where he met Arthur Kellogg (1878–1934), business manager of a social commentary magazine called Charities and the Commons. Establishing a friendship with Kellogg was a turning point in Hine's career. In 1907, he was hired to photograph various aspects of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a major industrial city with a focus on the steel industry. The magazine was investigating social and working conditions in Pittsburgh as part of a survey; Hine would supply the photos. His participation in this project, which encompassed two years, led him to capture the worklife of laborers and the issues surrounding them, such as industrial accidents, work conditions, and industrial employment of women. Hine also documented the health, recreational, and educational aspects of the lives of these residents of Pittsburgh.

The results of this investigative report were published in three special issues of Charities and the Commons throughout the spring of 1909. The completed Pittsburgh Survey, published in six volumes, became the model of "modern" social research. That same year, Hine left the world of teaching when he accepted a paid position on the staff of the magazine, as its photographer.

Joins the National Child Labor Committee

In 1908, Hine joined the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), an organization dedicated to regulating child labor. The NCLC was not popular among the big businesses of America's industrial society. Companies depended on child labor to maximize their profits. For pennies a day, managers and owners could—and did—squeeze ten or more hours of work out of a child. If forced to hire adults to do the same jobs children were capable of doing, companies would make less money. The bonus of hiring child laborers was that they were less likely to complain about poor working conditions, and even less likely to strike (refuse to work unless specific conditions were met).

Child labor was common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1900, nearly 20 percent of all children in the country between the ages of ten and fifteen worked. Some industries, such as coal mining and agricultural-based businesses (for instance, orchards and other farms), hired children as young as five to do simple, repetitive tasks. The workday began before dawn and did not end until sundown. During busy seasons, the hours were even longer. In addition to the jobs held inside factories and mills, thousands of very young children performed work at home, such as sewing and cigar-rolling, in their tenements (run-down apartments). Most child laborers gave up their schooling for the mere pennies they earned; they were forced to exchange their futures for dismal, miserable childhoods.

By the second decade of the twentieth century, some states had their own child-labor laws. Because the practice of using children as laborers was a cornerstone of big business, however, industrialists and other businessmen refused to adhere to the laws. Unfortunately, many child laborers could not count on protection from their parents, either. Parents often lied about their children's ages and looked the other way when employers expected children to work longer hours than permitted by law. What was needed was federal regulation, which would not be enacted until the 1930s.

In the meantime, Hine helped child-labor reform move forward by traveling throughout America, photographing children working under unimaginable conditions. Usually he would disguise himself in order to gain entry to the factories, mines, fields, and mills where he found the children. Had his identity been discovered, his life would have been in danger. Social reform was going to occur only at the cost of big-business profits, and no company owner was going to let that happen without a fight. To get into a company, Hine would pose as a Bible salesman or an equipment and machinery inspector.

Once inside the business, Hine would engage children in conversation and quickly note their ages, jobs, and any other information he felt was important. In those instances when he could not gain entry to the workplace, he would wait outside—sometimes all day or night—for the children to leave. As they did so, he would try to gather information, but more importantly, he would photograph them, with or without knowing his subjects' information.

A mere glimpse at the children featured in Hine's photographs told the story of their lives. Hine understood the power of perspective, light, and position in photography, and he used a combination that left no doubt in viewers' minds that the children they were looking at led lives of misery and neglect. Going against the common photography style of the day, which had subjects gazing past the camera so as to appear as if they were not actually posing for a portrait, Hine would tell the children to look directly at the camera. In doing so, Hine made sure that when viewers looked at the children, the children were looking back at the viewers. The impact of these photos on the child-labor cause was intense.

Hine had his photos published in magazines throughout the country, but he also published them in books and pamphlets, on posters and in bulletins. He traveled the country presenting them in slide lectures and exhibitions. In doing so, the reformer made sure to reach audiences at every level, whether their interests lie in reading or attending cultural events. Hine knew he had to appeal to the segment of the public that wielded the power to implement change.

Hine was not alone in his attempts to promote reform via a camera lens. Immigrant reporter Jacob Riis (1849–1914; see box) had done for tenement housing what Hine eventually achieved for child labor. Riis's photographs of immigrant slums in New York City brought to the public the plight of the city's poor. Although they were of two different generations, both Riis and Hine dedicated their lives toward eliminating poverty and improving the lives of America's lower class.

Becomes an interpretive photographer

Hine's photographs helped the NCLC achieve its goals. When the public pressured lawmakers into passing protective legislation for child laborers, the NCLC no longer needed Hine. More and more states began passing not only child-labor laws but also mandatory education laws. Although federal protection would not be in place until the 1930s, the NCLC knew they were on the road to serious reform, and their star photographer's contribution had paved the way. Hine left the NCLC in 1917 to pursue a freelance (self-employed) career.

Hine worked with the Red Cross in 1918 to document the postwar relief efforts in Europe. In 1919, he organized exhibitions for the American Red Cross Museum. For the next six years, Hine was hired by various organizations to help their cause. Among them were the Boy and Girl Scouts, the National Tuberculosis Commission, and the

Jacob Riis: Reporter Turned Reformer

Jacob Riis emigrated from Denmark to America in 1870, at the age of twenty-one. He immediately loved his new country but was concerned about conditions in the cities. He became a reporter for the New York Evening Sun and quickly became known as a pioneer of photojournalism. Riis took his own photos to accompany stories he wrote about situations he saw in his new country.

Riis began photographing and documenting conditions in the city's slums. He collected his work in a groundbreaking book entitled How the Other Half Lives. The book, published in 1890, brought Riis to the attention of an influential man who would one day be the twenty-sixth president of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919; see entry), then New York Police Board of Commissioners president, and Riis became fast friends. Together, they spearheaded the housing-reform movement.

Riis is credited with bringing to the forefront the plight of America's urban poor. His two other photojournalism books are Children of the Poor (1892) and Children of the Tenements (1903).

Riis's photojournalism efforts matched a new type of journalism called muckraking. Muck-rakers exposed scandalous and unethical practices among established institutions in America. Some of the more famous muckrakers were Ida Tarbell (1857–1954), for her series on the Standard Oil Company; Upton Sinclair (1878–1968; see entry), for exposing the dangers and poor working conditions of the meatpacking industry in Chicago; and Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936), for his investigation of the scandals among city and state politicians. Muckrakers worked side by side with reformers throughout the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.

Tenement House Commission. For his photography achievements, Hine was awarded the Art Directors Club of New York Medal in 1924.

Hine promoted himself as an "interpretive" photographer throughout the 1920s. He organized traveling exhibitions of his photograph collections for much of the decade. As the era's most popular photographer, his exhibitions were in demand, especially in New York City.

Beginning in the 1920s, Hine used his camera to depict the working conditions for women across the country. He photographed women in the workplace as part of a famous series called the Shelton Loom Series. Hine's photos for that project were published on the cover of Western Electric News. As part of his efforts, and with a clarity that indicates he was a man ahead of his times, Hine included photographs of homemakers (women who did not work outside the home) because he believed they deserved the same recognition as their workplace counterparts.

Climbs the Empire State Building

Hine received one of his most prestigious commissions in 1930, when he was hired to document the construction of New York's Empire State Building. From May to November of that year, the fifty-six-year-old photographer climbed stairs, balanced himself on beams suspended hundreds of feet in the air, and dangled himself over the bustling city streets—all in search of the perfect photo.

Hine thought nothing of hanging one hundred stories above the ground to capture just the right angle on any one of hundreds of riveters, welders, and bricklayers. The building was constructed in record time. Over the course of just one year and forty-five days, at a rate of four-and-one-half stories a week, the Empire State Building was completed. Its official opening was on May 1, 1931. Many of Hine's photos from that project were published in 1932. The book, Men at Work, received great acclaim by reviewers and readers alike.

Hine photographed other major events in the 1930s, including the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. That same year, he was hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to photograph the construction of some dam sites. (The TVA was a government-controlled operation that provided flood control, electricity, and economic development in the Tennessee River Valley.) That assignment ended when Hine's photos were published without giving him credit.

The end of the road

After the problem he encountered with the TVA, Hine sought out photographer Roy Stryker (1893–1975) in 1935 to seek advice about getting control of the rights to his photos. At the time, Stryker was head of the historical section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA). As America was experiencing its worst economic situation in history throughout the 1930s, the FSA was organized to assist farmers whose livelihoods had been devastated by the Great Depression (1929–41). Stryker told Hine to keep the negatives to all his photos as proof that he indeed owned them.

At the same time, Stryker was asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45) to select a handful of photographers to travel to America's rural heartland and document the struggles of its people during the Depression. Although Stryker told Hine about the job and Hine expressed deep interest in the project, Stryker kept coming up with excuses as to why he would not select Hine. Stryker never had any intentions of sending Hine on the mission; he told a friend that Hine was past his prime. The new, modern photography was of places and buildings, not of people. His encouragement of his fellow photographer was only out of pity.

Perhaps in response to Stryker's suggestion that he try photographing urban and rural subjects without people, Hine spent the next couple years photographing machines. This change in subject matter allowed Hine to experiment with his style. The result was a collection of prints that perfectly reflected industrial America: Man had been replaced by machinery.

Hine was lead photographer of the National Research Project of the Works Project Administration (WPA) in 1936 and 1937. The WPA had been established in 1935 to continue providing relief for those Americans hit hardest by the Depression. It provided jobs to the unemployed at a time when work was hard to find. In 1939, Hine arranged for a small exhibition of his work at New York City's Riverside Museum. Although the show was a success, it did not bring Hine the work he so desperately wanted. He was a portrait photographer without work. He died, penniless, in New York on November 3, 1940. Hine was a man whose work had outlived its usefulness: his photos were meant to inspire social reform, but by the 1930s, that reform had happened. Therefore, his particular form of photography no longer had any use. Yet his work provides detailed insight into a country that was changing by leaps and bounds, often at the expense of its people.

For More Information

BOOKS

Dimock, George. "Hine, Lewis (1874–1940)." In Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society. Edited by Paula S. Fass. New York: Macmillan, 2004.

Freedman, Russell, and Lewis Hine. Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor. New York: Clarion Books, 1994.

Goldberg, Vicki. Lewis W. Hine: Children at Work. New York: Prestel Publishing, 1999.

Hine, Lewis. The Empire State Building. New York: Prestel Publishing, 1998.

Panzer, Mary. Lewis Hine. New York: Phaidon Press, 2002.

PERIODICALS

Martinez Wright, Lee. "Spiders in the Sky." Smithsonian (January 2002): p. 17.

Millstein, Barbara Head. "Lewis Wickes Hine: The Final Years." Magazine Antiques (November 1998): p. 714.

WEB SITES

"Child Labor in America 1908–1912: Photographs of Lewis W. Hines." The History Place.http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/index.html (accessed on September 3, 2006).

Davis, Kay. "Lewis Hine." Documenting "The Other Half": The Social Reform Photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/davis/photography/hine/hine.html (accessed on September 3, 2006).

Hall, Maureen P. Lewis Hine's Men at Work.http://xroads.virginia.edu/~1930s/Print/document/men/coverpage.html (accessed on September 3, 2006).

Leggat, Robert. "Hine, Lewis Wickes." A History of Photography.http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/history/hine.htm (accessed on September 3, 2006).

"Lewis Wickes Hine: The Construction of the Empire State Building, 1930–1931." The New York Public Library.http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/photo/hinex/empire/empire.html (accessed on September 3, 2006).

"Lewis Wickes Hine." Getty Museum.http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1601&page=1 (accessed on September 3, 2006).

Library of Congress. "National Child Labor Committee Collection Photographs by Lewis Hine." Prints and Photographs Reading Room.http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/207-b.html (accessed on September 3, 2006).

Oden, Lori. "Lewis Hine (1874–1940): Photography for Social Reform." International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum.http://www.iphf.org/inductees/LHine.htm (accessed on June 2, 2006).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hine, Lewis." Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reference Library. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hine, Lewis." Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reference Library. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

"Hine, Lewis." Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reference Library. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hine, Lewis

HINE, LEWIS

Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874–November 3, 1940) was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After taking extension courses from Frank E. Manning, professor at the Wisconsin Normal School, he attended the University of Chicago for one year in 1900. Manning, just appointed superintendent of New York's Ethical Culture School (ECS), hired Hine in 1901 as an assistant teacher of geography and nature study. Hine used his camera as an educational tool and ran the ECS photography club. After completing his degree in education at New York University, Hine decided to forge a free-lance career in sociological photography. In 1904 he directed his attention to photographing immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in New York Harbor. In 1907, he began illustrating the six-volume Pittsburgh Survey (1909–1914) of steelworkers' working and living conditions. He then gained renown among social reformers when the National Child Labor Committee enlisted him to document the problem of working children in America, a project he pursued from 1908 to 1918. Hine also photographed the aftermath of World War I in France and Belgium for the American Red Cross.

In the early 1920s Hine concluded, "I had done my share of negative," and he decided to turn his lens toward the "intelligent interpretation of the world's workers" through a "new-worker" series of photographs depicting heroic visions of human strength, dignity, and productivity in the context of the machine age. The most important series from this project, published as Men at Work (1932), followed laborers during the construction of New York's Empire State Building. Although one critic decried Hine's "exaggerated desire to glorify the working class," Hine insisted that his work was "interpretative" rather than "documentary." He noted, "If I could tell the story with words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera." He further declared, "I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected ... that had to be appreciated." Still, he experimented with "art" photography while taking a few commercial assignments. The first major exhibition of his work was held at the Yonkers Art Museum in New York in 1931.

The American Red Cross sent Hine to drought-ridden rural Arkansas and Kentucky in 1931. After the publishing of his portfolio of mill workers, Through the Loom (1933), and its exhibition at the 1933 World's Fair, the Tennessee Valley Authority hired Hine to photograph construction of two dams. Roy Stryker, head of the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration, chose not hire Hine for the FSA photography staff; although Stryker admired Hine's work, he knew his artistic temperament demanded more control over images than Stryker permitted FSA photographers. However, in 1936 the Works Progress Administration appointed Hine head photographer for the National Research Project studying productivity and technological change for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He focused on Civilian Construction Camps, unemployed miners, rural communities, and urban workers, but his work was not completed by 1937 due to poor health.

In 1938, the Columbia Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation hired Hine to prepare specials on the working man. Life magazine later bought some of his photos, the New York State Museum assembled a permanent collection of his work, and the New York Public Library began collecting it, as did a number of major art museums. The reformist Russell Sage Foundation funded two folios of his images of Ellis Island and child laborers. Applauded for the pioneering quality of his documentary vision, Hine nevertheless struggled financially throughout his career, and he died in near poverty in 1940.

See Also: PHOTOGRAPHY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gutman, Judith Mara. Lewis W. Hine and the American Social Conscience. 1967.

Gutman, Judith Mara. Lewis W. Hine, 1874–1940: Two Perspectives. 1974.

Kemp, John R., ed. Lewis Hine: Photographs of Child Labor in the New South. 1986.

Hine, Lewis. Men at Work: Photographic Studies of Modern Men and Machines. 1932. Rev. edition, 1977.

Rosenblum, Walter; Alan Trachtenberg; and Naomi Rosenblum. America and Lewis Hine: Photographs 1904–1940. 1984.

Steinorth, Karl, ed. Lewis Hine: Passionate Journey, Photographs, 1905–1937. 1997.

Blanche M. G. Linden

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hine, Lewis." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hine, Lewis." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

"Hine, Lewis." Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hine-lewis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.