I think any parent of a modern adolescent finds those pictures of child laborers in the early 20th century intriguing horrifying.
Yet, we marvel at what a 12-year-old could do if he had to. He could walk 8 blocks. He could stay off the couch most of the day. He could work a hoe in the garden. He could load the dishwasher just once.
In October, 1915, Lewis Wickes Hine, a sociologist turned photographer, came to Fort Collins to document child labor abuses in the beet industry.
Wickes Hine found the schools with more students absent than present, as children worked the harvest. Those who made it to school were often years behind…like Henry who was in 4th grade when this photo was taken.
The history of Fort Collins sugar beet industry here is well documented. So, I’ll just share two more photos:
This orderly scene is from the Fort Collins local history archives. Not sure the source, but similar in tone to most references to the factory: “Strolling down Vine Street by the Fort Collins, Colorado, Sugar Beet factory.”
And here is Lewis Hine’s take from the other side (factory in background). They called it the Jungle then, but I think this is the beginnings of Buckingham:
About a dozen more of Hine’s Fort Collins photos are stashed at the Library of Congress. I can’t link directly to it, so go to the National Child Labor Committee page and search on Fort Collins.
Share them with the children.