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Upcoming Exhibits

Child Labor in Oklahoma: Photographs by Lewis Hine, 1916–1917

Lewis Hine once said "If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug a camera…"

Child Labor in Oklahoma: Photographs by Lewis Hine, 1916–1917 is a snapshot of images by Lewis Hine whose photography captured the soul of the child laborer in north America in the early 1900s. Although Hine focused on major cities, he did take brief trips to other parts of the country to document child labor, including Oklahoma. Hine photographed in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Shawnee, Okmulgee, Sulphur, and a few other small communities. Cameras from Hine's era and photographs of similar subject matter from the Oklahoma Historical Society photograph archives will also be on exhibit.

Social reform photographer, Lewis Hine (1874–1940), spent thirty years photographing child labor across the United States. Hired by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), Hine photographed children working in factories, mills, coal mines, farms, and in the streets to bring awareness to the abuse of child labor in early nineteenth century America. Children were often severely injured or fatally wounded by the unsafe working conditions. Most of the children were kept out of school and many were illiterate.

Most scholarship highlights Hine's overall life and career; little has been presented about the individual states that he visited. Hine came to Oklahoma in October of 1916, and again in March and April of 1917, as part of his photographic documentation of child labor. Oklahoma, very much an agrarian society, had only recently become a state. The photographs taken by Hine during his trips to Oklahoma were very much a contrast to those photographs taken in the highly industrialized states. While many of his photographs were taken in small factories and shops, much of his Oklahoma photography focused on cotton pickers, farmers, newspaper boys, and small country schools.

This exhibit features a free catalogue while supplies last. There will be a Curator's Talk on Thursday, November 3, from 6:00–7:30 pm. The talk is free and open to the public.

This is exhibit will be in the Chesapeake Events Center, which is used for public and private events and meetings. We recommend calling ahead to ensure the room will be open to the public the day of your visit. To contact the admissions desk please call 405-522-0765.

Curated by Theresa Bragg, Jim Meeks and Lori Oden

Sponsored in part by Oklahoma Humanities
Callie Campbell, 11 years old, picks 75 to 125 pounds of cotton a day, and totes 50 pounds of it when sack gets full. "No, I don't like it very much." Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. October 16, 1916.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.
15-year-old chauffeur in Oklahoma City who killed a man by careless driving. His case was dismissed because he was "too young to prosecute." Yet he was driving a taxi for a livery man and with no license. Tulsa, Oklahoma. March 1917.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.
Charlie Scott, who lives at 19 Third St. is 9 years old and a truant newsboy. Said: "I dunno where the school is." Has been in the city 2 months. Photographed during school hours. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. March 15, 1917.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.