Child Labour in the Industrial Revolution with Photographes by Lewis Hine

Group of Breaker Boys (1911 January), a photograph by Lewis Hine.
Group of Breaker Boys (1911 January)

Industrial Revolution

The times of Industrial Revolution which was a period between 18th and 19th centuries defines an industrial progress in Europe and America. It brought about a quick change in the social statutes and lifestyles of some parties in society. While Industrial Revolution has been leading to a decrease in agricultural activities and rural depopulation, as a result of this, it created an urban and industrial life style which put the poor community in a detrimental situation. 

Child Labour

Children Working on Handloom, a photograph by Lewis Hine.
Children Working on Handloom
Generally the term of poor community is used for a collective group of people who are meant to survive because of poverty. But in this case, the term is specifically defined as children of poor parents who works for peanuts and orphans in society. Child labour of the Industrial Revolution is a case which has to be considered from the angles of human right violations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, economical convention and social rights.

Child Factory Workers, a photograph by Lewis Hine.
Child Factory Workers
The child labour of Industrial Revolution refers to a group of children which were in the ages of six to fourteen in variety. Those children were responsible for using dangerous equipments in factories for long working hours even up to nineteen hours in a day. 

Punishment Methods

Child Labor Doffer Boy (1909), a photograph by Lewis Hine.
Child Labor Doffer Boy (1909)
When working conditions of factories checked for last period of the 19th century, it can be seen that the children workers had burdened with several types of cruel duties and faced with verbal abusing every day from their chiefs. Those chiefs were grown textile workers who had the managing rights on children in order to make production faster. But they were taking no responsibility for the needs of children such as safety and nourishment. Some punishment methods also existed during this period to keep the child labour in an order such as weightining and lack of clothing

5 Years Old Manuel Shrimp Picker, photograph by Lewis Hine
5 Years Old Manuel 
Shrimp Picker
Weightining is a punishment method imposed for being late at work or not performing well in work hours. The child who had this kind of penalty was called weighted. Generally, a watcher was detecting the child who was late or running out the clock, then he was tying a heavy object to the child’s neck and forcing him to roam in the factory or walk the stair up and down around an hour. The main purpose of this charging was discouraging other children to lounge or be late. Weighting was causing many neck and tissue injuries

15 Years Old Gertrude Belier, photograph by Lewis Hine.
15 Years Old Gertrude Belier
Another punishment method was lack of clothing which can also be seen as a precaution rather than a punishment from the tycoon’s point of view. For only boys, putting their clothes to the factory in the middle of the night, was making them punctual to catch working time up. Besides punishments, there were some other unhealthy conditions in factories. To be specific, workers of a match factory were drawing a chemical element phosphorus into their lung. As a result of this, many diseases have been occurred such as mouth sores, dental caries and even lung cancers which end by death desperately. Similarly, child labour who was working in coal mines used to have bodily harms because of carrying coal bags on their backs, digging open doors under mine and pulling coal carts. 

According to the Human Right Norms

12 Years Old Giles Newsom (1912), photograph by Lewis Hine.
12 Years Old Giles Newsom (1912)
Conversely the prescribed industrial diseases, the children worked in mills were usually getting harmed by overworking. However, there exist some cases of children who felt asleep on a working machine and had scalp wounds caused by that their hairs had been caught by a machine. All in all, when we checked these detrimental conditions to work for a child, it must be said that many human right norms were violated such as having the right of life, security and bodily integrity, the right of healthy, viable and supportive environment, the right of justice, equality and non discrimination in environment matters, lastly the right of a social and international order in which all human rights may be fully realized.

Child Oyster Shuckers (1912), photograph by Lewis Hine.
Child Oyster Shuckers (1912)
A Child Worker in 1920s, photograph by Lewis Hine
A Child Worker in 1920s
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an agreement which is also a part of United Kingdom laws, has the importance of being first declaration contains basic descriptions of human rights. While this declaration which includes the principles of civil rights just like the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does as well, it is expected that, the covenant should had touched on the delicate issue of children rights specifically. But it could not, therefore, a lack of rights for child labour remained until the date of 1989 which was a year that ‘Convention the Rights of the Child’ was signed. This agreement fulfilled the demand for children rights.

Economic Aspects

Young Mill Workers (1908), photograph by Lewis Hine.
Young Mill Workers (1908)
Child Coal Miner (1909), a child labor photograph by Lewis Hine.
Child Coal Miner (1909)
To light up the issue economically, it is necessary to understand controversial claims revealed by tycoons of the period in order to fend the blaming off. In this case, ‘Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ says that improving the methods of production by using the technical and scientific knowledge by developing agrarian system in order to archive a most efficient development is acceptable in article eleven. On the other side, article seven mentions about the necessities of fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, resting and leisure hours respectively. 

The Lowell Mill Girls, child labor photograph by Lewis Hine.
The Lowell Mill Girls
One of the main arguments comes from tycoons who were forced to produce more in a competitive environment is giving the opportunity of sheltering and nourishment to the children workers, orphans especially in return for their effort in work. It seems that; this kind of arguments were used for long to overlap the bad working conditions existed during the Industrial Revolution. Then it turned this fatality to moral actions in the eyes of public. So, it is disclosed that the economical approach of the Industrial Revolution had negatively made the poor community focused on gains of that period instead of realizing what’s hiding behind these achievements.

Sadie Pfeifer Cotton Mill Spinner (1908), child labor photograph by Lewis Hine.
Sadie Pfeifer 
Cotton Mill Spinner (1908)
A Child Worker in 1910s, photograph by Lewis Hine.
A Child Worker in 1910s
For today’s world, the major solutions detailed by declarations for the protection of child labour from the dangerous situations were already revealed above. In addition to those, making the Covenant on Economical, Social and CulturalRights compound with the ‘Covenant on the Rights of the Child’ can be another precaution to avoid conflicts in these declarations which were open to interpretation.


Sadie Pfeifer Cotton Mill Spinner (1908), photograph by Lewis Hine.
Sadie Pfeifer 
Cotton Mill Spinner (1908)
To conclude, one of the major human right violations in history, concerning the child labour during the Industrial Revolution is revealed due to the laws of that period and today, economy and the declarations on child rights. The industrial accidents and terrible working conditions were also mentioned in respect to the real-life examples on the topic which is the most significant case in the history of human rights, also needs to be held priority to avoid same kind of violations in the modern world. 

Lewis Hine, Creator of Photographs Above

Lewis Hine, an American sociologist and photographer.
Lewis Hine
Let’s make an end to this article with the famous words of Lewis Hine who was the creator of all these photographs remained as today. "There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to train them, but to get high profits from their work." Lewis Hine, 1908.

Child Labour in the Industrial Revolution with Photographes by Lewis Hine Child Labour in the Industrial Revolution with Photographes by Lewis Hine Reviewed by Articonog on December 19, 2019 Rating: 5

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