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Lewis Wickes Hine (1874–1940) was the first social documentary photographer. He spent his career photographing work and workers, from exposing the exploitation of child labor for the National Child Labor Committee (1908–1918) to emphasizing the dignity of adults working through his "work portraits" in the 1920, Hine created the notion of "social photography."Hine's photographs represent the first time social science methodology was used together with photography to document the conditions under study. Unfortunately, when Progressivism (1880–1920) ended, Hine's fortunes turned. After some notoriety gained from both his Empire State Building photographs, which resulted in his only published book, Men At Work, and his 1938 retropsective at what is now the Brooklyn Museum, Hine died in poverty in 1940. See below for links to find information on Lewis Hine and the institutions he worked for.

On this page you will find links to help your research. Feel free to contact me at with any questions about Lewis Hine or to read an academic manuscript.


Authored by Dr. Kate Sampsell:

Lewis Hine as Social Critic (Jackson: Univ. of Mississippi Press, 2009) is the first full-length monograph on Hine. 

Entry for Hine, Lewis W. (1874–1940) in Oxford University Press's Grove Art Online (paywall)

"Lewis Hine, Ellis Island, and Pragmatism: Photography as Lived Experience,"  Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 7 (Spring, 2008).

"Student-Centered Reading of Lewis Hine's Photographs," The History Teacher 47 (May, 2014): 387–419.

"Waiting for Hasan: Lewis Hine, Service Learning, and the Practical Pedagogy of American Studies" in Eileen Lundy and Ed Lundy, eds., Practicing Transnationalism (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 2016), chapter 9.

Other Links (You may find information on all this material in Lewis Hine as Social Critic):

Private (in chronological order):

Society for Ethical Culture Lewis Hine began photographing while he was a teacher at New York's Ethical Culture School. While there, he taught Paul Strand, whom he introduced to Alfred Stieglitz during a tour of the gallery 291.

Pittsburgh Survey Lewis Hine was the official photographer recruited by Paul and Arthur Kellogg.

NCLC Hine was director of information for the National Child Labor Committee.

Survey Graphic The Kelloggs maintained contact with Hine and often printed his work. This link is to The SurveySurvey Graphic's immediate predecessor, which often featured Lewis Hine's photography.

American Red Cross Hine photographed for American Red Cross in 1918 in Europe and in the South in 1930–1931, documenting relief and identifying its need in the great drought.

Empire State Building (NYPL) Hired by Al Smith in 1930, Hine's published selections from the series for Men at Work, his only book.

Shelton Looms Hine made "work portraits" as part of his "interpretive photography" for Sidney Blumenthal.

U.S. Government:

TVA Hine was the first photographer hired for the Tenneessee Valley Authority.

REA Rural Electrification Administration

PWA Public Works Administration

NRP National Research Project (and the New Deal at the National Archives)


The George Eastman House holds most of Hine's papers and negatives.

The Library of Congress holds Hine's photographs for the NCLC and American Red Cross.

The U.S. National Archives holds all of the photographs Hine made for the U.S. Government and some for the NCLC

UMBC has an excellent collection of Hine's political montages.

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