Thursday, August 27, 2009

small hands, hard work

Here are some photos that Lewis Hine took in Biloxi, Mississippi, during February 1911. Hine was working for the National Child Labor Committee to document the hard lives and difficult working conditions that young people then suffered. The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress holds the collection of NCLC Hine photographs.

All these photos show men, women, and children in Biloxi who were associated with the oyster shucking business of the Barataria Canning Co.

As usual, click image to view full size.

{LC caption: Oyster shuckers at work in Barataria Canning Co. Small girls working on left of photo are Gertrude Kron, five years old, Pauline ---, eight years old. Also a small boy. Mildred Kron, three years old (not working in photo) works some every day, mother said.

{Group of oyster shuckers as above}

{Group of oyster shuckers as above}

{LC caption: Family of Peter Elvis, New Orleans, La. All except smallest baby work in the Barataria Canning Company. Youngest boy, Jo., seven years old works Saturdays. Alma, the three year-old by the door is "learnin' the trade" her mother said. }

{LC caption: Howard Simmons and Joe Elvis, two of the smallest here, both shuck oysters in Barataria Canning Co.}

{LC caption: Bessie, four years old, and Marietta, seven years old, both shuck oysters in Barataria Canning Company. Mother is Mrs. Ida Thompson, Baltimore.}

{LC caption: Alma Crosien, three-year-old daughter of Mrs. Cora Croslen, of Baltimore. Both work in the Barataria Canning Company. The mother said, "I'm learnin' her the trade."}

{LC caption: Olga Schubert, 855 Gruenwald St. The little 5 yr. old after a day's work that began about 5:00 A.M. helping her mother in the Biloxi Canning Factory, begun at an early hour, was tired out and refused to be photographed. The mother said, "Oh, She's ugly." }

These images bring to mind the work life of my mother's father who — his father having died — quit school in his home town of Passaic, New Jersey, so he could work to help support the family. In 1891, at age 9, he got his first job: tending cows. A bit later he worked in local spinning and rubber mills. At age 14 he apprenticed as a carpenter. Although he achieved considerable success before the Depression wiped him out, he never attained more than a 4th grade education.

No comments: