Well, damn, I deserve what I get for mentioning taxes in a lead-in. Let's pretend I didn't do that, okay? It makes me feel kind of useless to spend my time not publishing comments.
More on topic, Jim Nash mentioned that there are some large JPEGs of Lewis Hine pictures at shorpy.com, as indeed there are. Including many which I've never seen before, which is exciting for me.
Those of you who don't visit Shorpy, or have never heard of it, might not know that the site itself is named after the subject of a Lewis Hine photograph:
December 1910. Shorpy Higginbotham, a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine, of the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co. in Alabama. Said he was 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Carries two heavy pails of grease, and is often in danger of being run over by the coal cars.
(Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.)
Shorpy Higginbotham died in a mining accident, aged 31.
Poking around the Hine photographs on Shorpy, I was interested to see how the site's community dives into researching the pictures and their elements. Consider this one—the commenters have figured out the real name and age of the "newsie," the location of the store, and even the fact that the toilet paper in the window was made by the Waldorf Company, whose employee education program was the ancestor of the still-thriving Waldorf Schools.
That led me naturally enough to the site of Joe Manning, "author, historian and geneologist," whose site I have actually surfed past before, looking for pictures, without realizing its full import. Joe's "Lewis Hine Project" involves tracking down what happened to the subjects of some of Hine's pictures.
February 1910. Addie Card,12 years old, anemic little spinner in North Pownal Cotton Mill, Vermont. Girls in mill say she is ten years. She admitted to me she was twelve; that she started during school vacation and would 'stay.' (Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.)
One of Lewis Hine's most famous child-laborer photographs is of Addie Card, an "anemic little spinner" in a Vermont cotton mill. A book author, Elizabeth Winthrop, wrote a novel inspired by the photograph, imagining the life of the girl in the picture, who she named "Grace." But she became curious about the identity of the real person in the photograph, and asked Joe Manning to help her find out more about her.
Joe Manning's account of several months of detective work starts here.
It's not a fast read, but his search certainly succeeded—he was able to track Addie Card through marriages, divorce, a lost child, and all the way to her headstone (she died in 1993). He met a number of her descendants and uncovered several later pictures of her, and one possible earlier one, including a picture of her as an old woman.
Based on Joe's researches, Elizabeth Winthrop wrote a short article for Smithsonian magazine about Addie, which can be found here.
And to think, there are probably similar stories waiting to be uncovered about so many of the pictures on Shorpy...if you've never visited, don't do it when you're in a hurry.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.