Documenting "The Other Half": The Social Reform Photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine
Photography and Social ReformJacob RiisLewis HineSlideshows

Lewis Hine

Social Photographer

Social Photographer

National Child Labor Committee

Work Portraits

Analysis of Hine Photographs

Lewis Wickes Hine was born in 1874 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The youngest child in the family, and the only son, Hine took on the responsibility of supporting his family when his father died in 1892. Hine's employment over the next eight years included a thirteen-hour-day, six-day-a-week shift in a furniture upholstery
factory—hours not uncommon at the turn of the century.

Photography and Education
In 1900 Hine enrolled in the University of Chicago to study education. When Frank Manny, principal of the State Normal School in Oshkosh, accepted a position as superintendent of the Ethical Culture School in New York City, he asked Hine and a few other teachers to join him there.

Manny gave Hine his first photography job, taking pictures of students in school clubs. Manny gave Hine a second job photographing immigrants at Ellis Island. The school used Hine's photographs as a teaching aid.

Shortly after his Ellis Island excursions, Hine began teaching photography at the Ethical Culture School. After hours, he attended camera-club meetings. In 1905 he received a master's degree in education from New York University. In 1906 he published several articles on the use of photography in education.

"Sociological Photographer"
Hine enrolled in the graduate program in sociology at Columbia University in 1907. At the urging of his friend, Arthur Kellogg, to become "a sociological photographer," Hine accepted a freelance assignment for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), an organization that campaigned for child labor legislation.

Tenement Family
Tenement Family,
New York

Hine's first assignment for the NCLC was New York's tenement homeworkers. In a pamphlet he later wrote, titled, Tasks for the Tenements, Hine stated: "Tenement homework seems to me one of the most iniquitous phases of child-slavery that we have." [29]

Hine's other freelance work included photography for Paul Kellogg's sociological study, The Pittsburgh Survey, and Charles Weller's Neglected Neighbors in the National Capital. Hine became a staff photographer for Charities and the Commons magazine in 1908.


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2000-2003