Human Junk: Children Textile Workers and their private and social lives in High Point, North Carolina 1910-1930’s

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kimberly Mozingo, Graduate Student (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Thomas Jackson

Abstract: “The exploitation of children would produce only human junk” photographer Lewis Hine professed as he traveled across America in the early twentieth century taking hundreds of photographs documenting child labor. Hine, child labor reformers, and progressives of the period fought a constant battle with mill owners and southern gentry who argued child laborers were essential to factory production. The voices of the children were largely absent from these two separate groups who felt they had the right to argue their own points of view without understanding the motivations, difficulties, or private lives of the children they were attempting to either save or exploit. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the motivations of children textile workers and the ways these children struggled with commerce, social interactions, playtime, and education while working in textile factories. This paper will analyze photographs of High Point, North Carolina taken by renowned early twentieth century photographer Lewis Hine in 1912 and 1936. These photographs are primary source information of the period and help to create a visual representation of these children workers. By looking at these photographs and revealing actual oral histories of child laborers through the 1910’s and 1930’s, a clearer picture emerges into the personal lives and leisure time of child laborers beyond the reformers’ presumptions and mill owners’ exploitation.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Language: English
Date: 2013
history, north carolina, textile workers, textile factories, child labor, american history

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