Lewis Hine

Assessment

Directions: 

Examine the photograph and answer the questions that follow.

Source: 

This photograph shows “breaker boys” at a coal mine in Pennsylvania in 1911. Their job was to break coal from other rocks. The photograph was taken by Lewis Hine, who had been hired by the National Child Labor Committee, an organization that opposed child labor, to take the photograph. 

Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma, Pine Street

Question 1:  How might the photograph be useful as evidence of the working conditions of children in the Pennsylvania coal mines?  

Question 2:  What about this source might make it less useful as evidence of the working conditions of children in the Pennsylvania coal mines?  

About the Assessment

Like the Slave Quarters assessment, this question requires students to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of a document as historical evidence.  Students with a sophisticated understanding of sourcing will explain that Hine’s photograph is useful in that it depicts young workers employed in a mine at the time. They will also point out that the fact that Hine was paid by the National Child Labor Committee to take the photograph may make it less useful as evidence of the conditions facing children working in the mines.