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

Photography and Social Reform

Progressive Era Reform

Gilded Age Reform

Progressive Era Reform

While the Gilded Age was an era of prosperity for many Americans, economic depressions brought hard times to many businesses and made sporadic employment a reality for the working class.


Economic Instability

The industrial plants that survived became more demanding in terms of both the speed and the regularity with which their workers produced goods. Increasingly frustrated by unfair demands, many laborers chose to strike. It was a collective action, a way of protesting as a group against the economic injustices of the workplace.

Strikes enabled laborers to express disagreement with the idea of a permanent wage-laboring class. This was the opposite of what the American republic claimed to offer.

Few working-class citizens were able to own or operate a business, buy property, or upgrade to better housing. By the turn of the century, most reformers favored the argument that poverty was the result of the nation's