These photos ended child labor in the US

  • Published: 28 June 2019
  • Child labor was widely practiced until a photographer showed the public what it looked like.
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    The 1900 US Federal Census revealed that 1.75 million children under the age of 16, more than one in five, were gainfully employed. They worked all over the country in cotton mills, glass blowing factories, sardine canneries, farms, and even coal mines. In an effort to expose this exploitation of children, the National Child Labor Committee hired a photographer to travel around the country and investigate and report on the labor conditions of children.

    Lewis Wickes Hine photographed and interviewed kids, some as young as 4 years old, and published his findings in various Progressive magazines and newspapers. Once the public saw the plight of these children, state legislatures were pressured to pass bills regulating labor for workers under the age of 18, effectively bringing an end to child labor in the United States.

    See the entire collection of Lewis Hine's photos for the National Child Labor Committee here:

    Darkroom is a series from Vox producer Coleman Lowndes that digs into stories of the past, one photograph at a time. Watch all the episodes here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 2 714

  • Vox
    Vox   4 months back

    You can watch all of our existing episodes of Darkroom in one playlist here:
    What historic photos or events would you want to see covered in the future?

    • Allied Atheist Alliance
      Allied Atheist Alliance  1 months back

      Do one on the photographs of Arthur Fellig (Weegee)

    • Allied Atheist Alliance
      Allied Atheist Alliance  1 months back

      Share this with a Libertarian, they get off on this stuff.

    • TheSmreeder
      TheSmreeder  2 months back

      Every Picture tells a story

    • Hardtanker
      Hardtanker  3 months back

      You should do an episode on war photos. mainly ones focusing on soldiers or one mainly focusing on the horrors of war. I believe that those who have suffered or sacrificed should have their stories told.

    • Xavier Peypoch
      Xavier Peypoch  3 months back

      The death of Emiliano Zapata

  • Jeff Killer
    Jeff Killer  5 days back

    Well they shall never grow old as they said at that time

    • LoganManila
      LoganManila  1 weeks back

      No black child laborers? Or photographer didn’t think they were important to be included in the appeal to abolish child labor?

      • Creative 8D
        Creative 8D  2 weeks back

        If I was at that time, I would be a lumber jack that cuts trees down

        • Ronin Bayacal
          Ronin Bayacal  2 weeks back

          But can we talk about that shadow representation of Lewis at the start?? Awesome filmatography!

          • Dyuti Coomar
            Dyuti Coomar  2 weeks back

            I hope someone does this in India ... Even though there are child labour laws in place, the enforcement is not that strict. I wish someone could document those thousands of young children who still go through this in 2019, more than a 100 years after these photographs were taken in America. Made me tear up. :(

            • Gading Surdawi
              Gading Surdawi  2 weeks back

              this guys just invented post caption

              • Dev
                Dev  4 weeks back

                can someone confirm what background music is playing in the first 75 seconds?

                • Yacob Zuriaw
                  Yacob Zuriaw  4 weeks back

                  Photographer was spot on. He knew the population would have a lower tolerance for child pain if they were white.

                  • crazygamer101 _
                    crazygamer101 _  4 weeks back

                    School is child labor

                    • Elvis Ines
                      Elvis Ines  4 weeks back

                      Every other sentence “Social” lol

                      • Massachusetts Mapping
                        Massachusetts Mapping  4 weeks back

                        Here in MA, the town I live in a hundred years ago was a mill town, and had a ton of child workers who could barely speak English, who came from Poland and from French speaking parts of Canada, and Lewis Hine actually came here and took pictures.

                        • An Dre
                          An Dre  1 months back

                          yet my step dad makes me work

                          • Awais Pasha
                            Awais Pasha  1 months back


                            • Tony Toons
                              Tony Toons  1 months back

                              *America in 1909: Why don't we take child labour, and move it to somewhere else?*

                              • HX3 EN/FR
                                HX3 EN/FR  1 months back

                                Mhhh not really noice

                                • I have a small Peepee, but

                                  Photographers: Well bois, we did it. Child Labor is no more.

                                  • Mr Glubble
                                    Mr Glubble  1 months back

                                    The last image of John Lennon and yoko ono, specifically the cover of Rolling Stones

                                    • Stephanie Washington
                                      Stephanie Washington  1 months back

                                      Beautiful but sad photos....very moving

                                      • saud almansour
                                        saud almansour  1 months back

                                        You can see in their faces how they aged quickly, it's sad knowing actual human beings are behind this evil companies.

                                        • Sergio Alcantara
                                          Sergio Alcantara  1 months back

                                          Lost slaves, so went to the next best thing. Children. God are we lazy.

                                          • Alex Kaczmarczyk
                                            Alex Kaczmarczyk  1 months back

                                            1:11 No one cares but i live very close to Wilkes Barre and West nanticoke

                                            • sir. Phillip
                                              sir. Phillip  1 months back

                                              What was wrong with the farm work or the news boys, or delivery boy that was a decent way to make money and now i cant get a job so i can buy things i want

                                              • -Vinetail -
                                                -Vinetail -  1 months back

                                                They made money to survive, not anything different than today but they barely made any money at all. Cheap labor.

                                            • Ibroo Vlogs
                                              Ibroo Vlogs  1 months back

                                              Dw guys there is still child labour

                                              • Harth Productions
                                                Harth Productions  1 months back

                                                That photographer experienced VICTORY.

                                                • Alfonso Luengo
                                                  Alfonso Luengo  1 months back

                                                  in 1:41 its says 1909 but in the video it displays 1905

                                                  • mario parra
                                                    mario parra  1 months back

                                                    clutch your pearls then go and buy something made in china.

                                                    • Geoff Griffiths
                                                      Geoff Griffiths  2 months back

                                                      Kids with adult faces.

                                                      • Abhar Bhattarai
                                                        Abhar Bhattarai  2 months back

                                                        Thank you so much for this.

                                                        • Jacob Monnin
                                                          Jacob Monnin  2 months back

                                                          These photos changed it. Nothing else.

                                                          • Yamaly Hernandez
                                                            Yamaly Hernandez  2 months back

                                                            I love ur channel broda 🤙🏻

                                                            • Meelow Avila
                                                              Meelow Avila  2 months back

                                                              I wonder at what point did they think it was a good idea to make the kids work in the mines

                                                              • Levio4life
                                                                Levio4life  2 months back

                                                                Omg that whole curiosity stream is so freaking cool!!!! I didn't know that was a thing!!!!

                                                                • AntiSocial Atheist
                                                                  AntiSocial Atheist  2 months back

                                                                  Weren't the progressives democratic socialists at that time?

                                                                  • Candis C
                                                                    Candis C  2 months back

                                                                    that was really done well.

                                                                    • Private Notitia
                                                                      Private Notitia  2 months back

                                                                      *so many of us complain today about not having the latest video games or tech....*

                                                                      *look at how the world was 100years ago.*

                                                                      • Mary Patton
                                                                        Mary Patton  2 months back

                                                                        Today we have gone to the opposite extreme where children don't work at all. Balance please.

                                                                        • Pony Ny
                                                                          Pony Ny  2 months back

                                                                          I can’t believe there are people saying literal children working isn’t important because “life isnt fair” and they need to “toughen up”..imagine shrugging at a literal 6 year old getting black lung working in mines. I’m going to throw up.

                                                                          • Stephen Conway
                                                                            Stephen Conway  2 months back

                                                                            There is always the debate about buying goods from countries which that use child labor. To some degree you can say if the people are poor they not buying starves them of that money. Then again, aren't we rich enough to ensure that they don't need to be poor. My long since grandmother used to say even rich people can only eat boiled eggs one at a time. We are rich enough.

                                                                            • Stephen Conway
                                                                              Stephen Conway  2 months back

                                                                              Brilliant document. Thanks.

                                                                              • Tim Roswell
                                                                                Tim Roswell  2 months back

                                                                                I'd like to ask these kids what they think about their white privilage.

                                                                                • TMR
                                                                                  TMR  2 months back

                                                                                  Black kids worked too. The reason you don't see them in these pictures is because they mattered even less than these kids. So, even though these kids didn't have much privilege, they still had more privilege than colored kids.

                                                                              • pkmondol
                                                                                pkmondol  2 months back

                                                                                We still haven't figured this out... the power of photos/videos in really accelerating change. Recall Ray Rice. He was going to play football for the Ravens, until the TMZ video came out of him punching his wife. It took seeing the video of what domestic violence really looks like for the Ravens to decide to cut him.

                                                                                One of the biggest issues in America right now is gun violence. If they showed pictures/videos of the slaughtered children at Sandy Hook, there's no question we'd have stronger gun control and maybe even banned high powered guns at this point.

                                                                                • jackelracer593
                                                                                  jackelracer593  2 months back

                                                                                  we should bring it back

                                                                                  • Keyboard Dancers
                                                                                    Keyboard Dancers  2 months back

                                                                                    Part of what built america.

                                                                                    • liberty Ann
                                                                                      liberty Ann  2 months back

                                                                                      Trump's vision for our future. He wants child labor back.

                                                                                      • Mega Traum
                                                                                        Mega Traum  1 months back

                                                                                        orange man bad

                                                                                      • Igesb Pro
                                                                                        Igesb Pro  2 months back

                                                                                        What the heck is wrong with you!!

                                                                                    • guardian a
                                                                                      guardian a  2 months back

                                                                                      Look what they did and today they are acting like the world police

                                                                                      • Nemanja ĆIrić
                                                                                        Nemanja ĆIrić  2 months back

                                                                                        its a free market. let invisible hand solve it

                                                                                        • No Bozos
                                                                                          No Bozos  2 months back

                                                                                          Now if we could get progressives to stop sexualizing children... that would be a great accomplishment.