About this photo—from October, 1913—Lewis Hine wrote: “Part of a group of itinerant cotton pickers leaving a farm at which they had finished picking a bale and a half a day. They live in these wagons. Note how many children - all pick except the baby in arms. The four year old picks fifteen pounds a day regularly. Seven year old boy picks fifty pounds a day. Farm near McKinney, Texas. Location: McKinney, Texas. ” Image online via the National Child Labor Committee collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Click on it for a better view.


As he traveled around America, Lewis Hine photographed children performing all sorts of manual labor. Thousands of his pictures are now part of a collection at the U.S. Library of Congress.

  • Five-year-old Dovey Kirkpatrick (with her family in Comanche, Oklahoma) picked cotton at the average rate of fifteen pounds a day in October, 1916. Her mother told Hines: "She jess works fer pleasure."
  • Harold Walker, also five, worked in the same field while Edith (last name unknown) picked cotton near Denison, Texas.
  • Slavin Nocito, picking cranberries with other children in New Jersey, carried two pecks of cranberries to "the bushel man." He walked the "long distance," in 1910, without shoes.
  • Alex Reiber, seven years old in 1915, topped sugar beets near Sterling, Colorado. He observed: "I hooked me knee with the beet- knife, but I jest went on a-workin."
  • On "rush days," children (aged 8-10) worked in the Sterling fields from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Five weeks after school started, in the fall of 1915, only one student showed up for class in Ft. Morgan, Colorado. There had been room for nineteen more.
  • Similarly, twelve (out of twenty-six) students missed class at Twombley School in Bush, Colorado.
  • When she wasn't working in the Sonora, Kentucky fields, 11-year-old Demetra Jones, helped to knit clothes.
  • In Connecticut, 1917's tobacco crop stood taller than some of its youthful pickers.

America's children did not just work in the fields. They also worked along the seashore and in canneries. The results of their labor were shipped around the country and to other parts of the world.


0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Jun 29, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"CHILDREN IN THE FIELDS" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2004. Feb 17, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips