Macon, Georgia 1901

g January 19, 1909. Macon, Georgia. Some adolescents in Bibb Mill No. 1


Title: “Some adolescents in Bibb Mill No.1”

Creator: Lewis Wickes Hine

Format: photograph

Children in the workforce toward the early 1900s is a familiar idea but the reality of it becomes rather revealing in this photo. Immediately, attention is drawn towards the girl in the middle, her facial expression and body language more dramatic than the others. The state of their clothing, worn and dirty, is the most obvious give away of how strenuous their jobs are. Similarly, their hooded eyes and sagging facial features age them significantly, contributing to the gravity of their work situation. Even the other girls standing posing for the photo have a natural slump in their posture and have a rather defeated look on their faces. The idea that girls around 12 or 13 years old could look so aged and battered be perceived as normal is alarming yet fascinating. Child labor wasn’t uncommon and was generally accepted at the time, grueling mill jobs in particular, so it seems unlikely that such a photograph would be used as a way to spread awareness.The motive behind this photo then becomes the question.


4 thoughts on “Macon, Georgia 1901”

  1. One thing I noticed about this photo was the hand on the middle girl’s shoulder. To me, the hand signifies friendship and support between the adolescents. Industrialization and the introduction of new technology in the late 19th and early 20th century came with rapid changes, both positive and negative, and child labor was certainly a significant failure for society at the time. Although the girls were worked long and tough hours, there appears to be mutual support among them, demonstrated through the soft and comforting hand. Harsh experiences often bond people, and I think the girls would always share the difficult memories between them. To me, it’s slightly comforting to think that the children had each other’s backs during such challenging times.

  2. You had mentioned that you did not think that this photo was taken to raise awareness because child labor was so common, however, I think that this is the exact reason why this photo would be taken to raise awareness. The expression on the children’s faces are those of people who are over worked and aware of their situation. Often photographers use the power that an actual image of a group’s situation to speak for it’s self as a piece of social change propaganda.

  3. I think the girl to the right of center is the most powerful in this picture. While your immediate attention is drawn to the girl in the middle, her expression does seem very dramatic. In my opinion, the girl to her right has a more haunting and somber look. When you look into her eyes, you can see the despair and struggle. Mixing this expression with her slumped shoulders, unkempt hair, and dirty clothes, you can get the full picture of the effects of child labor.

  4. If I had not seen the title of this image, I would have thought these children were adults. They look so tired and over worked that they could not possibly be so young. I have always read about the effects of child labor on a population, but I have never seen it so closely as I do here. I agree with the other comments when they saw the hand as a sense of comfort. They all went through these awful treatments together and understood each other. As a side note, however, if you look to the far right a girl seems to be smiling. I find that odd.

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