Striking photos of America's child laborers reveal what work was like a century ago

The fight against child labor
The fight against child labor

Most jobs in the US in the early 20th century were done under grueling conditions.

Features that are now common in US workplaces — weekends off, 40-hour weeks, and other protections — were largely nonexistent in the early 1900s.

But one of the biggest differences between now and then may be who was doing the work.

Lewis Hine, a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, captured photos of some of the children who made up the US labor force between 1908 and 1924.

Hine traveled throughout the US, documenting children working in factories, fields, and at home in support the NCLC's mission to promote the "rights, awareness, dignity, well-being and education of children and youth as they relate to work and working."

The photos below, compiled by the Library of Congress, are the result of Hine and the NCLC's efforts to document child labor and its effects on the children who did it.

The descriptions come from NCLC caption cards, edited for clarity and length.

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