On October 7, 2016 the Museum Friday interest group visited The Cantor Museum at Stanford for the exhibit "Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine". This exhibit continues through Oct 30th. We received a special lecture by the exhibit curator, Alexander Nemerov, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities and Chair of the Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University.
One hundred years ago, the photographer Lewis Hine travelled to mills and factories in New England and the South, photographing child laborers. His photographs are among the most haunting images of children ever made. In this exhibition, a beautiful selection of Hine’s child-labor photographs is juxtaposed with stunning contemporary photographs taken by photographer Jason Francisco (Stanford M.F.A., ’89) of those same mill and factory sites as they look now. The Lewis Hine photos helped sway Congress to pass a child labor law in 1916. At that time child labor was regulated by state law and every state had different rules. There were an estimated two million working children under the age of sixteen and some as young as five.
Congress did not abolish child labor in 1916. It simply barred the movement of goods across state lines if they were produced by children under the age of 14, children who worked more than 8 hours per day or who worked more than 6 days a week. In 1918 the Supreme Court struck down the 1916 law as unconstitutional as per the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. This Supreme Court ruling stood until 1941 when it was overturned in the case of U.S. versus Darby.