In this richly illustrated book, Robert Macieski examines Lewis W. Hine’s art and advocacy on behalf of child laborers as part of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) between 1909 and 1917. A “social photographer”—as he called himself—Hine created images that documented children at work throughout New England, revealing their exploitation in the North as he had for rural working children in the South. Hine staged his images, highlighting particular types of labor in specific places: the “newsies” in Connecticut cities; sardine canners in Eastport, Maine; cranberry pickers in Cape Cod bogs; industrial homeworkers in Boston and Providence; and cotton textile workers throughout the region. His association with the NCLC connected him to a network of local and national reformers, social workers, and child welfare professionals, a broad coalition he supported in their fight to end this unethical labor practice. Macieski also chronicles Hine’s efforts to mount major exhibitions that would help move public opinion against child labor.
In Picturing Class, Macieski explores the historical context of Hine’s photographs and the social worlds of his subjects. He offers a detailed analysis of many of the images, unearthing the stories behind the creation of these photographs and the lives of their subjects. In telling the story of these photographs, their creation, and their reception, Macieski demonstrates how Hine worked to advance an unvarnished picture of a rapidly changing region and the young workers at the center of this important shift.