Beautiful Photography by Lewis Hine

Child Labor Exposed: The Legacy of Photographer Lewis Hine

A camera was an improbable weapon against the growing evil of child labor in the early years of the 20th century. Then, children as young as five years old were working long hours in dirty, dangerous canneries and mills in New England.

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Lewis Wickes Hine, a former schoolteacher, cleverly faked his way into places where he wasn’t welcome and took photos of scenes that weren’t meant to be seen. He traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, exposing himself to great danger.  His exertions were ultimately rewarded with a law banning child labor in 1938. He was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Sept. 26, 1874, and came late to photography.

Lewis Hine was educated as a sociologist at the University of Chicago, during the years when John Dewey and Thorstein Veblen were on its faculty. He continued his education at New York and Columbia Universities, and taught at the School of Ethical Culture. (Among his students there was Paul Strand, whom Hine introduced to photography.) Hine was past thirty when he seriously took up photography; by instinct and by training he conceived of the medium as a means of studying and describing the social conditions around him. As a 30-year-old prep school teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City when he got a bright idea: He would bring his students to Ellis Island to photograph the thousands of immigrants who arrived every day. Over five years he took more than 200 plates; but more importantly, he realized he could use photography to try to end child labor.

CHILD LABOR COMMITTEE – In 1908, Hine got a job for the National Child Labor Committee, reformers who fought the growing practice of child labor. Between 1880 and 1900, the number of children between 5 and 10 working for wages had increased by 50 percent. One in six small children were then mining coal, running spinning machines, selling newspapers on the street or otherwise gainfully employed. They were robbed of an education and a childhood, trapped in a downward spiral of poverty.

Newsies – telegraph messengers and young mill workers were exposed to vice and abused by their employers, their customers and even their parents.

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Hartford newsboy Tony Casale, 11, in 1909. He had been selling newspapers for four years, and sometimes until 10 p.m. His boss said his father bit him on the arm for not selling more papers. Said Tony, “Drunken men say bad words to us.”

Graflax – Over the years, Hine photographed children working in gritty industrial settings that inspired a wave of moral outrage. With a new camera called the Graflex he took photos of child labor throughout New England. Hine was one of the masters of the splendid new camera. For the first fifty-odd years of photography, the photographer had to compose and focus his picture upside-down on a ground glass in the back of his camera, then insert the holder that held the sensitive plate. Once the plate was in the camera, the photographer was shooting blind, unable to change either his framing or his focusing. With the Graflex on the other hand, he saw his picture just as the camera would record it until the very instant that he pushed the trigger. This meant that he could frame his subject boldly, to the very edges of the plate; he could change his angle of view at the last moment; he could focus selectively on the most important plane of his subject, allowing the nearer and farther planes to be recorded out of focus. His picture is characteristic of the new kind of graphic economy and forcefulness that Hine helped discover for photography.

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Addie Card, a 10-year-old spinner in the North Pownal, Vermont Cotton Mill, 1910. Hine described her as ‘Anaemic little spinner.’ Her image appeared on a postage stamp and in a Reebok ad, and she inspired the novel ‘Counting on Grace.’

Hine traveled far beyond the giant textile mills of Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. He went to silk and paper mills in Holyoke, Mass., textile and upholstering plants in Manchester, New Hampshire, a cotton mill in North Pownall, Vermont, and cotton mills in Scituate, Rhode Island.

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Phoebe Thomas, an 8-year-old Syrian girl, at 6 a.m. She was on her way to work cutting sardines at the Seacoast Canning Co., in Eastport, Maine. Later that day she nearly cut her thumb off.

He went to the canneries in Eastport, Maine, where he saw children as young as seven cutting fish with butcher knives.  Accidents happened — a lot. “The salt water gets into the cuts and they ache,” said one boy.

RELUCTANT EMPLOYERS
Employers didn’t want their practices exposed. Photo historian Daile Kaplan described how Hine operated: Nattily dressed in a suit, tie, and hat, Hine the gentleman actor and mimic assumed a variety of personas — including Bible salesman, postcard salesman, and industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery — to gain entrance to the workplace. Hine might tell a plant manager he was an industrial photographer taking pictures of machines. At the last minute he would ask if a child laborer could stand near the machine to show its size. He also interviewed mill owners, parents and local officials, pioneering tactics still used by 60 Minutes.

hine-cigarmakersThe Factory: Young cigar makers in Engelhardt & Co. Three boys under 14. Labor leaders in busy times employed many small boys and girls. Youngsters all smoke. Tampa, Florida.

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Three boys, 13 and 14 years old, picking shade-grown tobacco on Hackett Farm. The “first picking” necessitates a sitting posture. Buckland, Connecticut.

Hine confronted public officials with evidence and asked for a response. He asked the children about their lives. He told one heartbreaking story about a child laborer who worked in a cannery, so young and beaten down she couldn’t tell him her name.

Russell Freedman, in his book, Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor, wrote,  “At times, he was in real danger, risking physical attack when factory managers realized what he was up to…he put his life on the line in order to record a truthful picture of working children in early twentieth-century America.”

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Miners: A young driver in the Brown Mine. Works 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Brown, West Virginia.

Years of political battles followed, until finally in 1938 Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law prohibits any interstate commerce of goods produced by children under the age of 16. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law on June 25, 1938.

By then, the public had lost interest in Lewis Hine’s work. He died two years later, broke, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. His son offered to donate his photographs to the Museum of Modern Art, but MOMA rebuffed him. Today, Hine’s photographs of child labor belong to collections at the Library of Congress and the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y.

The National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives.

And today there is a Lewis Hine award for people who have done outstanding work in helping young people.

 

Beautiful Lithography Stones

n 2011, while the REI store in the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo district was undergoing renovation, workers made an unexpected discovery. Hidden behind one of the walls of the cellar were more than 100 lithography stones from the building’s days as a printer. They are now on display on the store’s lower floor.

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The historic building got its name from the magazine Puck, the first wide-reaching humor publication in the United States, which was
founded in 1871 and moved to lower Manhattan in 1887. It shared the space, in a mutually beneficial relationship, with its printer, J. Ottman Lithographic Company. Their shared headquarters was the largest building in the printing district at the time.

J. Ottman Lithographic Company printed many things beyond the Puck magazines, including theatrical posters and board games. Among the works now hanging on the REI wall are a high school diploma, a certificate of election, and a mortgage bond. Some of the litho stones are in rougher shape than others.

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Most of the writing and images on the stones is “backwards,” standard practice so that the final print is the reverse of what is seen on the plate or stone. Some, though, were prepared for offset printing, which involves an additional
step between the plate and the final product. The inked image, prepared “forwards,” or as it would be seen in the final product, is first transferred to a rubber blanket, reversing
the image once, and then to the final surface, setting it right.

Puck continued to operate out of the Puck Building until 1918, when it ceased publication. It was known for beautiful, full-color lithographs and sharp political satire. Statues of the magazine’s mascot, Puck, decorate the outside of the building. J. Ottman Lithographic Company shuttered around the same time.
Other printing companies, and even another satirical magazine, have called the building home since the original tenants left.

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During REI’s renovation, a deliberate effort was made to repurpose materials from the original building. Fixtures from the steam engine that powered the presses are on permanent display, including two flywheels and the governor. Nineteenth century I. P. Frink chandeliers, newly fitted with LED lights, help light the main floor.

 Source: Atlas Obscura

Beautiful History of Crayons

To celebrate National Crayon Month here is the interesting history of crayola crayons. From its earliest days, Crayola has been a color company.  During the last 100-plus years, Crayola has grown beyond our founders’ wildest dreams.  By applying technical innovation, unparalleled quality, consumer satisfaction and product value, Crayola has become the preeminent producer of hands-on products for creative personal development and fun.  Read more about the colorful history here. Oh RIP Dandelion, today it was discontinued.

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1 and 2: Original box of crayons
3. Original box of 48 colors
4. Original box of 52 colors
5. Original box of 64 colors
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Retired colors

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Original colors

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Original Ad – 1905

 

 

 

Beautiful Color Red

Being Valentine’s Day I have the color red on my mind. On Valentine’s Day, red is everywhere.

red-caveCave art paintings of Lascaux in France

If any color can stake a claim to be the oldest, it is red. We’ve been seeing red since our neolithic days. It is the most primary of primary colors – the very blood in our veins is red.

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So how did red become the color of love? 400 years ago in 17th-century France, red was a color of power. Red was always a color associated with palaces, with Versailles, in fact Louis XIV put a little red into every step he took. He was a man who was very proud of his legs. Known as having gorgeous legs and he wore all kinds of fashion that would show them off. Louis wore knee-length tight pants and beautiful silk stockings. His heels — which were quite high for a man — were not just red, but scarlet.

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Red was an expensive color in 17th-century France because at the time, the dye was made from a little bug found in Mexican cactus, the cochineal. Soon nobles all over Europe were painting their heels red. Red was chic, flashy… and expensive.

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Nilda and Acopia women dying yarn red

These white bugs produced a potent red dye so sought-after by artists and patrons that it quickly became the third greatest import out of the “New World” (after gold and silver), as explains Victoria Finlay in A Brilliant History of Color in ArtRaphaelRembrandt, and Rubens all used cochineal as a glaze, layering the pigment atop other reds to increase their intensity. A non-toxic source for red pigment, the cochineal bug is still used to color lipsticks and blush today.

The bottom fell out of the bug market in the middle of the 1800s, when synthetic dyes were invented. Previously, red was only for the rich who could afford the expensive insect dye. In some cultures, the privilege of wearing red was reserved exclusively for the powerful. When you saw someone wearing red in Japan or Italy, the person was of high status.

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Toulouse-Lautrec – The Box with the Golden Mask

Today Red has many faces and is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

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Felix Vallotton – La Chambre Rouge

Red can be a naughty color — red-light districts and bordellos. It is both the color of Satan and the color of the Roman Catholic Church. Red is often associated with divinity; medieval and renaissance paintings show Jesus and the Virgin Mary in red robes. Red is for happiness — Indian brides get married in red saris. Red for good luck — the one-month birthday of a Chinese baby is celebrated with red eggs.

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I’ll leave it with this though. In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote that he “sought to express with red and green the terrible human passions”. Ancient, complex and representing extremes – red is nothing if not passionate. Perhaps Van Gogh would have seen red, should he have lived long enough to see the reds in his paintings starting to fade away.

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Vincent Van Gogh – Field of Poppies

 

 

 

Beautiful Iconic Designs

Ah, the pause that refreshes. One of the most famous lines in advertising for Coca-Cola.

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I don’t drink it often but occasionally it really “hits the spot”.  And it always seems to taste better when it comes out of a glass bottle, yes/no? One of the most famous shapes in the world is the iconic contour fluted lines of the Coca-Cola bottle. Renowned as a design classic and described by noted industrial designer, Raymond Loewy as the “perfect liquid wrapper,” the bottle has been celebrated in art, music and advertising. When Andy Warhol wanted a shape to represent mass culture, he drew the bottle:

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”           Andy Warhol

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How did the bottle become so iconic?
It began with the desire to protect brand Coca-Cola and was a cooperative project between The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers. In 1899, two Chattanooga lawyers, Joseph Whitehead and Benjamin Thomas, traveled to Atlanta to negotiate the rights to bottle Coca-Cola. The product had been an increasingly popular soda fountain drink established a mere 13 years previously. In fountain form, Coca-Cola grew from an average of nine drinks per day sold in 1886 to being sold in every state of the US by 1900. Thomas and Whitehead wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the drink by bottling it to be consumed outside the four walls of a soda fountain.

And to indicate the power of brand, as of 2015 the Coca-Cola brand was valued at 83.84 billion U.S. dollars.

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Beautiful Green

As today is St. Patrick’s Day it has me thinking about the color green. It’s not my favorite color but I do love nature where it’s everywhere, some people wear it very well and when it comes to interiors it has a quiet, moody feel about it. So I guess it all depends on the context in which it’s used. As I researched the color I came upon some beautiful renditions. Happy St. Patrick’s day to all who celebrate. For those who don’t, enjoy some fun trivia about Green.

The Meanings of Green
Since the beginning of time, green has signified growth, rebirth, and fertility. In pagan times, there was the “Green Man” – a symbol of fertility.  In Muslim countries, it is a holy color and in Ireland, a lucky color. It was the color of the heavens in the Ming Dynasty.

Today’s greens can be found in a wide range of objects: pea soup, delicate celadon glazes, emeralds, wasabi, and sage. The English language reflects some strange attributes: Would you rather be green with envy, green behind the ears, or green around the gills?

Global Meaning of Green

  • Green is universally associated with nature.
  • Green symbolizes ecology and the environment.
  • Traffic lights are green all over the world.
  • In China, Green may symbolize infidelity. A green hat symbolizes that a man’s wife is cheating on him.
  • In Israel, green may symbolize bad news.
  • In Japan, the words for blue and green (ao) are the same.
  • In Spain, racy jokes are “green.”

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
by Jan Van Eyck , 1434
The bride in this Renaissance masterpiece wears green as a symbol of her fertility. She is slouching in imitation of pregnancy, thus indicating her willingness to bear children.

In Celtic myths the Green man was the God of fertility.
Later in the millennium, Early Christians banned green because it had been used in pagan ceremonies.
Nevertheless, as evidenced by Van Eyck’s 15th Century wedding portrait, the color green was the best choice for the bride’s gown because of its earliest symbolism.

Of note is the continued symbolism attached to the color in the latter part of this century. Anyone who chooses a green m & m (an American candy which contains an assortment of different colored chocolate sweets) is sending a somewhat similar message. Green has been reinterpreted by late 20th century American culture to signify a state of heightened sexuality in this specific situation.

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Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435
Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435

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Beautiful green velvet furniture
adds a quiet moodiness and softness
to a room.

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Some people wear green very well

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…even in nature