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Photographs by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee

Sociologist Lewis Hine used photography as a tool for social reform. Working for the National Child Labor Committee from 1908 to 1924, Hine photographed children laboring in tenement workshops, mines, fields, and industries throughout the country. Hine’s images touched the public conscience, aroused support for child labor reform, and provided evidence to support legislation limiting child labor.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Photographs by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee Photographs by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee

Protecting the Welfare of Children

In 1907 Congress chartered the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), a group founded by progressive reformers concerned with the plight of child workers. The NCLC hired photographer Lewis Hine to document the working conditions of children in factories, fields, and mines. Influenced by Hine’s photos, Congress passed the Keating-Owen Act in 1916—the first federal attempt to regulate child labor.