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Old Photos of Young Cotton Workers From the Early 1900s

Children as young as five were put to work in some mills, doing the most boring, repetitive and tiring tasks. A child worker could spend all day cleaning fluff from the machines or tying ends of cotton - this was a common scene back then.
 

Some of the young workersin the Kosciusko Cotton Mills. The Superintendent of the mill objected to the photo op session, Kosciusko, Mississippi.
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Mart Payne, 5 years old, picks 10 to 20 pounds of cotton 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." Comanche County, Oklahoma.
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Young girl working at a knittingmachine at Cherokee Hosiery Mill, Georgia, USA 1913.
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A young spinner in Bibb Mill No. 1. She was so small she had to climb up on to the spinning frame to mend broken threads, Macon, Ga., Jan. 19, 1909.
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Two of the regular "helpers" in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga., 1909.
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Young pickers on H.M. Lane's farm Bells, Texas, USA 1913.
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Knitters in Loudon Hosiery Mills, Loudon Tennessee, USA, December 1910.
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Ronald Webb, twelve-year-old doffer boy and Frank Robinson, seven-year-old doff sweeper, Roanoke (Va.) Cotton Mills. Roanoke, Virginia, USA, May 1911.
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Working at the weavingmachines in The Flint Cotton Mill, Fall River, USA 1912.
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Boy with coat in hand is 11 years old and has been there 9 months. He started at 50 cents a day, now he gets 60 cents. Gastonia, North Carolina, USA 1908.
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The working force of West Point Cotton Mills.
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Boy at warping machine in Clyde Cotton Mill, been there 2 years. Newton, North Carolina, USA 1908.
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Cleo Campbell, 9 years old. He picks 75 to 100 pounds of cotton a day, but wants to start school soon. He said: "I'd ruther go to school and then I wouldn't have ter work." Father said she and her sister begin at 6 A.M. and work until 6 or 7 P.M. with 1.5 hours off at noon. Potawotamie, Oklahoma, USA 1916.
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Children on night shift going to work at 6. P.M. on a cold dark December night. Their shift ends at 6:00 A.M., North Carolina, USA 1908.
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Photos Lewis Hine | Preus museum

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