Advertising, Commercial, Documentary, Photojournalism
Biography: Lewis Wickes Hine was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
in 1874. After graduating from High School, he worked at various
jobs before enrolling at the University of Chicago in 1900. While
at the University of Chicago, Hine met Frank E. Manny, Professor
of Education at the State Normal School who had recently been
appointed superintendent of the Ethical Culture School in New
York. In 1901, at the invitation of Manning, Hine moved to New
York City and accepted a position as an assistant teacher at the
ECS. Hine began at this time to use a camera as an educational
tool and to photograph school events. Hine also began to attend
the School of Education at New York University.
In 1904, Hine, newly married to Sara Ann Rich became involved
in a project to photograph Ellis Island. Anti Immigrant sentiment
was pervasive and Manny encouraged Hine to portray the newly arrived
with the same dignity and respect as those immigrants who landed
at Plymouth Rock.
By 1905, Hine had received his degree from New York University.
Continuing to photograph for the ECS and while conducting its
Photography Club, he met Paul Strand. By 1906 Hine was considering
a career in Sociological Photography and began to pursue freelance
work with the National Child Labor Committee. In 1907, the NCLC
gave Hine his first assigned project. Hine was to photograph New
York tenement homework. Later that year after enrolling at the
graduate school of Columbia University to study sociology, Paul
U. Kellogg assigned Hine to a pioneering sociological project,
The Pittsburgh Survey. This survey was to be an all encompassing
detailed view of a typical industrial city. The survey showed
the gap between the largely unskilled immigrant workers and the
comfortable middle class of managers, executives and politicians.
The goal of the survey was to promote a rational understanding
of the social and economic inequities. It was believed that a
greater public awareness would result in corrective social action.
In 1908, the NCLC provided Hine with a monthly salary and assigned
Hine to photograph child labor practices. For the next several
years, Hine traveled extensively, photographing children in mines,
factories, canneries, textile mills, street trades and assorted
agricultural industries. Hines photographs alerted the public
to the fact that child labor deprived children of childhood, health,
education and a chance of a future. His work on this project was
the driving force behind changing the publics attitude and was
instrumental in the fight for stricter child labor laws.
In 1912, with a future home in mind for their newborn son, Corydon,
the Hines also purchased land in Hastings-on-Hudson, New
York. By 1913, Hine had established himself as perhaps the most
successful social welfare photographer. For the next several years,
He continued to travel as well as lecture for the NCLC. Several
exhibits, particularly in San Diego and San Francisco, further
established his reputation.
In 1917, after his salary at the NCLC was reduced, Hine accepted
a position with the American Red Cross. During the next couple
of years, Hine photographed refugees and displaced civilians in
war torn Europe. Hine returned to New York City in 1920 and was
assigned to the American Red Cross National Headquarters. Hines
advertising publicity now read "Lewis Wickes Hine, Interpretive
Photography" and reflected Hines belief in the symbolic
and artistic aspect of his work. This belief may have been reinforced
by a visit in 1921 to an exhibit of photographs by Alfred Stieglitz.
During the 1920s, Hine returned to Ellis Island, doing
assignments for various agencies and publications. He also undertook
various commercial assignments and in 1924 the Art Directors Club
of New York awarded him a medal at the Exhibition of Advertising
In spite of the fame and recognition he received, Hine found
difficulty making a living at photography. Then, in 1930 Hine
was hired to photograph the construction of the Empire State Building.
Where much of Hines previous work had documented the dark
side of labor and progress, the Empire State Building photographs
celebrated the dignity and productivity of a proud post war American
In 1931, the largest exhibit yet of Hines work took place
at the Yonkers Art Museum. Shortly afterward in 1932 Hines
book Men at Work was published. In the 1930s Hine printed
several portfolios, including Through The Loom which was obtained
by the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan
Museum and was exhibited at the 1933 Worlds Fair. In 1936-37,
Hine was appointed head photographer for the National Research
Project of the Works Progress Administration. Attempts at this
time to secure work with the Farm Services Administration proved
unsuccessful as Roy Stryker considered Hine unfashionable and
difficult to work with.
In 1939, sponsorship for a Hine retrospective of specially made
large prints at the Riverside Museum in New York city was arranged
and included, among others, Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz.
This exhibit also traveled to the Des Moines Fine Arts Association
Gallery in Iowa and the New York State Museum in Albany. After
Lewis Hines death in 1940, Corydon Hine donated his fathers
prints and negatives to the Photo League after finding little
interest elsewhere. Eventually these materials were donated by
the Photo League to the George Eastman House.
More on Lewis Hine:
Eastman House - Lewis Hine
Extensive Examples of Hine's Work.
of the Empire State Building
Hine's Documentary work on the Construction of the Empire State
building During 1930-1931.
Labor in America 1908-1912
Hine's Documentary work on the State of Child Labor in America