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Child Labor in Oklahoma

Photo Collection: Lewis Hine in Oklahoma, 1916–1917

All captions are notes about the children written by Lewis Hine.

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." Location: Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. (7)

Johnnie, Carrie and Jim Davenport picking cotton for MR. J. P. Daws, Route 1, Shawnee. Johnnie picks 75 pounds, Carrie 100 pounds and Jim 150 to 200 pounds a day. Get $1.00 a hundred pounds. No school yet. Mother is a renter; moves about a great deal. Location: Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. (8)

Mart Payne, 5 years old, picks from 10 to 20 pounds a day. Mother said: "Mart, he haint old nuff to go to school much, but he kin pick his 20 pounds a day. Mostly 10 or 15 pounds." Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma. (6)

Norma Lawrence is 10 years old and picks from 100 to 150 pounds of cotton a day. Drags the sack which often hold 50 pounds or more before emptied. Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma. (9)

Fred Hill, 3 years old, sometimes picks 20 pounds of cotton a day. Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma. (10)

Sarah Crutcher, 12-year-old girl herding cattle. Route 4, c/o S.O. Crutcher. She was out of school (#49 Comanche County) only 2 weeks this year and that was to herd 100 head of cattle for her father, a prosperous farmer. She said: "I didn't like it either." She is doing well in school. Is in Grade 8. Location: Lawton, Oklahoma.(11)

Herschel Bonham, Route A, Box 118, an 11-year-old boy cultivating peas. He belongs to a cotton club in school. Father says he can pick 200 pounds of cotton a day. Location: Lawton, Oklahoma. (12)

Bartrum Choate, a 12-year-old boy driving colts to town. Works for W.F. Barber, Route 3, Lawton, Okla. Location: Lawton [vicinity], Oklahoma. (13)

Family of L.H. Kirkpatrick, Route 1, Lawton, Okla. Children go to Mineral Wells School #39. Father, mother and five children (5, 6, 10, 11 and 12 years old) pick cotton. "We pick a bale in four days." Dovey, 5 years old, picks 15 pounds a day (average) Mother said: "She jess works fer pleasure." Ertle, 6 years, picks 20 pounds a day (average) Vonnie, 10 years, picks 50 pounds a day (average) Edward, 11 years, picks 75 pounds a day (average) Otis, 12 years, picks 75 pounds a day (average) Expect to be out of school for two weeks more picking. Father is a renter. Works part of farm on shares (gives 1/4 of cotton for rent) and part of farm he pays cash rent. Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma. (14)

Scott School #41; Miss Smith, Teacher. Opened September 4th--8 months term. 19 present to-day--should be 60. 20 are enrolled and 16 was the average attendance last month. Teacher expects 60 enrolled by January 1st. School does not settle down until January, and then the year is half gone. Absences due to cotton picking. Raise some grains here and a few of the older ones will be absent for work. Families are continually changing. Many tenants. Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma.(15)

A pair of truants, tending their father's mules. Photo taken during school hours, near Oklahoma City. Boys are 9 and 11 yrs. old. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.(16)

Alley scene. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (17)

Manley Creasson, 914 W. 6 St. Messenger #6, Mackay Telegraph Co. Says he is 14; school records say 13. Says he has steady job - "Been a messenger for years. Get $15 for 2 weeks' pay." Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (18)

Sam Pine, 8-year-old truant newsboy, who lives at 717 W. California St. Said: "I was late getting up and don't want to get the rubber tube fo[r] being tardy so I stayed away to-day." Photographed during school hours. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.(19)

1506 S. Robinson St. Onem said: "I never have been in school in my life but I got a pretty good education - sellin papers." Been selling here 6 months. These boys are truants who were photographed during school hours. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (20)

Ernest Chester, 5 years old lives at 624 S. Robinson St. Sells with his older brother Emmet, who is 9 years old. They are up very early. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.(21)

Ernest Chester, 5 years old lives at 624 S. Robinson St. Sells with his older brother Emmet, who is 9 years old. They are up very early. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.(22)

John Dowers, 7 years old, lives at 108 W. Frisco St. Starts out at 5 a.m. some days. Father is blind and sells newspapers. John is a pretty good beggar. Was seen trying to borrow a dollar from the bank to "get father a watch" (father is blind). Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.(23)

Jack Ryan, 6-year-old newsie, who lives at 126 1/2 W. Reno St. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (24)

Said mother told him to stay home. Says he gets up at 4 a.m. some days to sell. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (25)

Eleven-year-old bakery worker Glenn Dungey. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (26)

Eleven-year-old bakery worker Glenn Dungey. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (27)

Boys working at forging. Oklahoma City High School. Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (28)

High School boy at work in machine shop.
Oklahoma City High School. Location: Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma. (29)

Stoking the furnace in the power-house. Pauls Valley Training School. The boy was very proud of his job. Location: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. (30)

Making flower boxes in carpenter-shop. Pauls Valley Training School. Location: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. (31)

Making bread. Pauls Valley Training School.
Location: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. (32)

Interior of workshop of Sanitary Ice Cream Cone Co. Boys packing cones are John Myers, 14 years old and a boy 12 years old who is working steady now. Boss said: "He said he wasn't going to school so I took him." Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (33)

Sewing and darning. Training School for Deaf Mutes. Location: Sulphur, Oklahoma. (34)

Learning typesetting. Training School for Deaf Mutes. Location: Sulphur, Oklahoma. (35)

Daily inspection of teeth and finger nails. Older pupils make the inspection under the direction of teacher who records results. This has been done every day this year. School #49, Comanche County. Location: Lawton vicinity, Oklahoma. Location: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. (36)