Lewis Wickes Hine Portrait 1935.png
Lewis Wickes Hine, 1935
Lewis Wickes Hine (September 26, 1874 – November 3, 1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States
Lewis Wickes Hine is born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on September 26th.
Works in upholstering factory. Periods of unemployment follow where Hine does handy work and odd jobs (delivery boy, door-to-door selling, starts as bank janitor rising to secretary of the cashiers.
Enrolls at the University of Chicago where he studies sociology and pedagogy. Frank E. Manny, Professor of Education at the State Normal School had recently been appointed superintendent of the Ethical Culture School in New York hires Hine to be an assistant teacher.
Attends School of Education at New York University for teacher training. Starts to photograph as part of the new Ethical Culture School activities by appointment of Frank A. Manny, then director of the establishment.
Marries Sara Ann Rich.
Teaches at the Ethical Culture School in NY. Starts to photograph immigrants arriving on Ellis Island, as well as tenements and underprivileged people.
Director of photo-department at the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), NY.
Starts publishing his work in Charities and Commons (organ of social welfare) magazine. Does a series of photo-studies in the slums of Washington D.C. to illustrate the book Neglected Neighbors in our Nat. Capital. Assigned by NCLC to photograph New York tenement houses. Paul U. Kellogg hires Hine to photograph for the sociological studyPittsburgh Survey on the industrial community. In 1908, the NCLC provides Hine with a monthly salary to photograph child labor practices through the next few years.
Photographs for the American Red Cross (ARC), where he will serve as an officer in New York, the Balkans, Italy and Greece. In 1918 leaves the NCLC and is hired by the ARC to photograph the devastation caused by WWI in Europe.
Moves to Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.1918/19 - Starts using the term Interpretive Photography for his work.
First one-man show.
Not operating a dark-room now, refers requests for social photographs to Hiram Myers, Photo Publicity Studios, 30 Beekman Place, New York City
Assignments interpreting "Life and Labor" for social welfare and labor organizations, such as Amalgamated Clothing Workers (1923), Western Electric Co., Consumers League, National Tuberculosis Committee, Tenement House Committee Mission, Boy and Girl Scouts, Milbank & Harkness Foundations (1925-26), Child Welfare, Recreation Committees, public and private schools, libraries and municipalities.
Refers to Heinze (who makes my enlargements)
Publishes in the magazines The Survey (where he is photo-director), Everybody's, Outlook,Milbank, Foundation, National Consumer's League; returned to Ellis Island on assignment and took various commercial assignments.1930-31 - Commissioned to photograph the construction of the Empire State Building.
Largest retrospective exhibit of Hine’s work at the Yonkers Art Museum.
In this period, Hine contacted Roy E. Stryker for work with the Farm Security Administration but was refused. One of the possible reasons for this was the fact that Hine claimed ownership of his own negatives.
Publishes Men at Work, Macmillan Co.
Series of studies of textile workers for Sheldon Looms, resulting in the portfolio Through the Threads exhibited and acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Teachers College Library, NY, and Harvard University School of Business Administration.
Various government projects: TVA (1933); TERA (1934); PWAP (1934); REA (1935); Works Progress Administration (WPA), various projects - New York City, Westchester County, et al.(1935); WPA - National Research Project, various industrial studies (1936-37). Publishes in Look and Life magazines (starting in 1936)
Photo and research activities for the National Broadcasting Company. Visited Beumont Newhall (then curator of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, New York) and shows him his portfolio, making a deep impression on the curator, who publishes an article on Hine. It is through this article that Berenice Abbott becomes aware of the work of the photographer.
Retrospective exhibition at the Riverside Museum, NYC. The show was organized by Berenice Abbott and Elizabeth McCausland. Sponsors for this show included Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. Show traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, Assn. of Fine Arts, and the New York State Museum, Albany (NY). This year Hine's wife dies and he loses his home due to financial difficulties.
Lewis Hine's death

After Lewis Hine's death, his son Corydon donates his prints and negatives to the Photo League, which was dismantled in 1951. Walter Rosenblum (a member of the Photo League) takes care of the fond which was donated to the George Eastman House in 1955.

Source: From "Biographical Notes" by Lewis W. Hine published in Photo Story, Selected Letters and Photographs of Lewis W. Hine edited by Daile Kaplan, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, 1992. Link

  1. Letter dated June 24, 1919 to Mr. Authur Kellogg. Letters from the Social History Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.
  2. Letter November 29, 1921 to Paul Kellogg, Editor of //The Survey//. Letters from the Social History Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.