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About this collection

The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) was established in 1904 with the intent to promote the well-being of children and young adults in the workforce. The NCLC opposed the employment of underage workers in dangerous jobs with unhealthy conditions, particularly in mines and factories or completing manual labour, which often led to health concerns such as tuberculosis and broken bones. Children became unhealthy or poor adults, because the cycle of work and sleep left little or no time for education or play.

 

In order to bring their concerns to the public’s attention, the NCLC made extensive use of photography. They hired photographers to document child labor, including the working conditions and the children themselves. Exhibitions of these photographs circulated around the United States, dragging the seedy underworld of child labour into the spotlight. The NCLC used the photos slide shows and in displays that they disseminated. The images in this particular collection are lantern glass slides that were used in those slide shows.

 

One of the photographers hired by the NCLC was Lewis Hine, a social photographer who traveled around the country documenting working children. He used his craft to expose detrimental social conditions and to spur change. These photographs, and those of other NCLC photographers, also brought about new ideas concerning childhood, including the belief that it is something to be cherished and that play should be encouraged.

With the aid of these photographs, the NCLC was able to sway public opinion on child labour. Children under the age of sixteen were prohibited from working dangerous jobs, and children under fourteen we prohibited from working at all. Work permits providing proof of age became mandatory. By the 1930s, child labour finally began to disappear altogether with the invention of machines that could replace small hands in the workplace.

 

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Related Resources:
UMBC Lewis Hine Collection

Library of Congress National Child Labor Committee Collection  

National Child Labor Committee

 

Credit: UMBC student Becca Borland scanned all of the slides, created preliminary metadata, and wrote contextual and promotional information for the collection during her spring 2015 internship in Special Collections.

 

 

Works Cited:

"Child Labour." United Nations. United Nations. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/childlabour.


Curtis, Verna Posever, and Stanley Mallach. Photography and Reform: Lewis Hine & the National Child Labor Committee. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1984. Print.


McKelway, Alexander. "Declaration of Dependence." Declaration of Dependence. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. http://www.appstate.edu/~hindmanhd/declare.htm.


"The National Child Labor Committee." National Child Labor. National Child Labor Committee. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. http://www.nationalchildlabor.org.


"What Is Child Labour." International Labour Organization. International Labour Organization. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang--en/index.htm.

 
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