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Incredibly Depressing Vintage Photos of Child Labor

By 1910, there were 2 million child laborers under fifteen in the US workforce, toiling in factories, mines, canneries and the streets. They were cheap and easily manageable. They wouldn’t strike. They had small hands handy for adapting to particular tools. Of course, being employed at such an early age, they suffered from serious health issues, spine disfigurements,¬†bronchitis, and tuberculosis, not to mention being robbed of a childhood and education, treated as expandable cogs in the¬†industrial machine. It took decades for the labor activists to make some progress regulating this workforce. One of these activists, New York school teacher Lewis Hine, had quit his job to investigate and document these abuses. Before he died in poverty, he created a crucial archive of these abuses. These photos, profiled by¬†American Suburb X, show the scruffy, soot-covered, sun-blistered faces of this workforce. See the scrappy little gents posing in all their depressing precociousness in this gallery.


Image credit: American Suburb X