Hine, Lewis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Hine, Lewis

Lewis Hine, 1874–1940, American photographer, b. Oshkosh, Wis. Hine dedicated much of his photographic career, which began shortly after he bought his first camera in 1903, to exposing in sharp, painful images the social evils of the industrial revolution in the United States. He photographed the poverty of newly arrived immigrants and the street and factory life of working children. Many of these were published in such early collections as Charities and the Commons (1908) and Day Laborers before Their Time (1909). Hine's visual emphasis on their plight helped to bring about the passage of child-protection legislation in 1916. Hines also detailed the effects of war on the land and people of Europe, the complex relationship of man and machine, the construction of the Empire State Building (Men at Work, 1932), the effects of drought in the South, and the influence of a Tennessee Valley Authority dam program on the life of a rural community. Hine's work reflects concern, compassion, and a crusading idealism. The power of his images placed him at the forefront of 20th-century documentary photographers.

See International Museum of Photography, Lewis Wicke Hine's Interpretive Photography: The Six Early Projects (1978).

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