The garment industry is one of the oldest and largest export industries. We often hear of sweatshops and under age workers in other countries, but there was a time in America when sweatshops were common as well as those who worked at home and required their children to assist in the work. The photographs below were taken by photojournalist, Lewis Wickes Hine in New York depict this time in our history.
Many children worked at home on clothing rather than attend school as can be seen in the photographs below.
1 P.M. Family of Onofrio Cottone, 7 Extra Pl., N.Y., finishing garments in a terribly run down tenement. The father works on the street. The three oldest children help the mother on garments. Joseph, 14, Andrew, 10, Rosie, 7, and all together they make about $2 a week when work is plenty. There are two babies. Location: New York City, New York January 1913
High up on the top floor of a rickety tenement, 214 Elizabeth St., N.Y., this mother and her two children, boy 10 years old and the girl 12, were living in a tiny one room, and were finishing garments. The garments were packed under the bed and on top of it and around the room. Said the make from $1 to $2 a week, and the boys [sic] earns some selling newspapers. I could not get their name. Location: New York City, New York January 1913
Three girls and a boy working on garments, February 1910
11:30 A.M. Jennie Rizzandi, 9 year old girl, helping mother and father finish garments in a dilapidated tenement, 5 Extra Pl., N.Y.C. They all work until 9 P.M. when busy, and make about $2 to $2.50 a week. Father works on street, when he has work. Jennie was a truant, “I staid home ’cause a lady was comin’. Location: New York City, New York January 1913
Garment Workers on East Side 4:30 P.M. Vincenzie, 14 years old. Jovannina, 9 years old. Michael, 5 years old. Location: New York, New York January 1910
Man carrying bundle of garments. Bleeker St., N.Y. Location: New York, New York February 1912
Old man carrying garments, Delaney St., N.Y. Location New York, New York Feb. 1912
Heavy loads of garments for home-work. Near Bleeker St., N.Y. Location New York, New York Feb. 1912
Informal garment and textile workers often experience isolation, invisibility and lack of power, especially those who produce from their homes.