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Child Labor in NC Photography Exhibit


Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Photo Division.Peering from across a century, many children look older than their years in photographs captured by Lewis Hines in the mill villages of Cabarrus, Gaston, Lincoln, Rowan and other North Carolina counties. The 40 images in the free exhibit, The Photography of Lewis Hine: Exposing Child Labor in North Carolina, 1908-1918 is on loan from the N.C. Museum of History. It will be shown at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Western Office through October 3 during regular hours - Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and in special evening and Saturday programs.

Hine captured the harsh realities of life for the young textile workers, showing girls operating warping machines and boys covered in lint after long hours as doffers and sweepers in a Hickory mill. In 1908, the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) hired photographer Lewis Hine to document the horrendous working conditions of young workers across the United States. That same year, he began visiting North Carolina's textile mills where about a quarter of all workers were under age 16.

His photos began to be published within months and appeared in magazines and on posters the NCLC displayed at conferences, legislative hearings and other gatherings. In 1910, North Carolina strengthened its child labor laws and the first Federal child labor laws were passed in 1916. However it would take another 20 years before a law banning the sale of products manufactured by child labor was passed.

For additional information please call (828) 296-7230, email jeff.futch@ncdcr.gov, or visit www.ncdcr.gov/westernoffice. The Western Office is located at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville, N.C, and within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.