It is hard to believe that children as young as five were allowed to roam the streets of Washington D. C. and help sell newspapers. The young boy in the photograph below could not even talk well. This is why child labor laws are so important.
The photographs below were taken by Lewis Wickes Hine to document child labor problems in the early 1900s. The comments under the photographs are his. There were laws against these children working, but oftentimes they were forced by their destitute parents to work to help support the family. Most of the time they did not attend school due to the pressing need to support their families.
Five-year old boy roamed around on velocipede selling newspapers
Hines reports that ” 5 yr. old Willie, one of Washington’s youngest news-boys. He is a kind of free-lance, helps other boys out, and roams around the city on his little velocipede, with all the recklessness of extreme youth. Gets lost occasionally. He was so immature that he couldn’t talk plain, and yet he was pretty keen about striking people for nickels. William Frederick Tear, 490 Louisiana Ave., Washington, D.C. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.”
“I heard they was extras. I stayed out of school” says nine-year-old boy
This photograph was taken April 15, 1912. Hine states, “A young truant selling extras during school hours Monday, April 15th, on Pennsylvania Avenue. He said, “I heard they was extras.” I stayed out of school.” “I am 9 yrs. Old–I mean 11.” (He finally compromised on 10.) Earle Frere, 1359 D St., S.W., Washington, D.C. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.”
These boys were selling newspapers in a saloon
This photograph, taken in April 1912 is of a ten-year-old, Hine reports “had just been selling in this saloon for the other boy, his boss, E. Street, near 13th, Washington, D.C., The boss is Herbert Solomon, 452 D. St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 12 yrs. old. On April 19th I found Herbert selling at 1 A.M. The younger is Sam Goldstein, 458 P Street, N.W. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.”
Young boys sold papers even on the steps of the White House
This is truly an amazing photograph. All these boys were underage and selling newspapers on the capital steps to Congressman who passed laws against child labor. The photograph was taken April 11, 1912. Names of the children were: Tony Passaro, (8 yrs. old). Dan Mercurio, (9 yrs. old). Joseph Tucci (10 years old). Peter Peper (10 yrs. old). John Carlino (11 yrs. old).
Boys selling newspapers after midnight to theatre crowd
This photograph was taken after midnight April 17, 1912 at G street near 14th in Washington D. C. Hine states that, “these three boys 10 yrs, 11 yrs. and 12 yrs. old, were stuck with over 50 papers on their hands, and vowed they would stay until they sold out if it took all night. The oldest said, “my mother makes me sell.” Lawrence Lee (10 yrs.) 912–26th St., N.W., Michael, Niland (11 yrs.) 930–26th St., N.W., Martin Garvin (12 yrs.) 928–26th St., N.W.”
Young gum vendors and Newspaper boys on Pennsylvania Avenue
These young boys are a group of gum vendors and news-boys, Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street in Washington D. C. Hine reports the following about them: “The smallest ones were Sam Kipnis, 412 P St., N.W., Washington, D.C. David Stierman, 701 M St., N.W., Washington, D.C. (Is a truant on probation. Very defiant). Abram Furr, 1004 4 1/2 St., S.W., Washington, D.C., has a badge. The smallest of these were 11 years old. I saw some smaller but couldn’t get the photo.”
This 9-year-old boy had a large clientele among ambassadors and senators
The Name of this child was Israel April. Hine stated that the following about him, “Israel April lived at 314 I St., S.W., Washington, D.C. He told me “I serves the President”. He is 9 yr. old news boy with no badge selling near Willard Hotel, Sunday P.M., 4/14/12. Been selling for several years. I found him selling after midnight April 17th and 18th. Quite a pugnacious little chap. He and his brother are said to have a large clientele among ambassadors and senators. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia. April 14, 1912
I wonder what happened to all these young boys?