IR #2003-3
Thursday, May 1, 2003

Dean Fryer
Susan Gard

Media Advisory
Lewis Hine photographs of child laborers and interactive workshop for teens open California's Safe Jobs for Youth Month

Event: The California Resource Network for Young Worker Health and Safety and the California Department of Industrial Relations present "Let Children be Children: Lewis Wickes Hine's Crusade against Child Labor" photo exhibit and interactive workshop on job safety for teens in San Francisco's Civic Center.

Date & time: Photo exhibit opens Wednesday, May 7, 2003 and runs through Sunday, July 6, 2003, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Friday and 12-4 p.m. weekends.

Join us for the opening night reception May 7 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m.

Guided photo tours and interactive workshops for teens run May 14 - 16.

Address: San Francisco City Hall, lower level, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, between Polk and Van Ness/Grove and McAllister in San Francisco.

Special information: Scanned Lewis Hine child labor photos available upon request. Please provide specifications.

Background information: The exhibit of 55 Lewis Hine photos, organized by the George Eastman House, offers historical context for a statewide observance of Safe Jobs for Youth Month in May. The observance, proclaimed by Gov. Gray Davis, and falling immediately before many young Californians enter the summer job market, provides an opportunity to educate young workers, their parents and educators about labor and occupational safety laws affecting young Californians between the ages of 14-18.

The stark beauty of the Hine photos stems from his artistry and the shock of viewing the harsh working conditions of child workers employed in sweatshops, mining, agriculture, canneries and manufacturing in the early 20th century. Hine was hired in 1906 by the National Child Labor Committee to document the abject working conditions of children with the aim of enacting protective legislation for children, many of whom worked up to 12 hours per day from the age of five. He spent 10 years photographing children. His photos were instrumental in curbing the hours of work for the nation's children - but not until 1938 when the federal child labor regulation was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Hine was trained as a sociologist, and working in a progressive New York City school for middle-class students when he learned to use a camera. He began photographing immigrants pouring into Ellis Island during social studies field trips with his students. He followed these immigrants into the tenements and slums of New York, photographing their living conditions and the "home work" of the sweatshop industry that employed entire families -- including toddlers -- doing piece work at home.

Thousands of young workers begin their first jobs during the summer in California. Many industries employ youth in food service, as courtesy clerks in grocery stores, on construction sites and as cashiers in customer service and retail. These jobs allow California youth to earn money and create positive work experiences. Unfortunately, these jobs can also involve injury and disability if young workers are not informed of the hazards.

Every year, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an estimated 200,000 young workers are injured on the job. An estimated 70,000 are injured seriously enough to go to the emergency room. Studies suggest that youth job injury rates are higher than those of adults, despite the fact that youths are prohibited from working in the most hazardous occupations.

Potential hazards facing young workers include:

The Hine exhibit is sponsored by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, Brenton Safety, the California Resource Network for Young Worker Health and Safety and the Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley. It is presented by the Arts Commission Gallery, a program of the San Francisco Arts Commission, and is funded in part by the Grants for the Arts program of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.