Jennie Camillo, an 8 year old cranberry picker, Pemberton, New Jersey, 1910. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

By Ben Wheeler

A SERIES of heart-wrenching images, depicting child labour in early twentieth century America have been brought to life after being expertly colourised.

Seen among the images is eight-year-old cranberry picker, Jennie Camillo, looking desolate as she attempts to carry her heavy load in Pemberton, New Jersey.

Raymond Klose (middle), newsboy, 13 years old, St. Louis, Missouri US, 1910. The photograph was taken by Hine at 11am, Mon May 9th 1910. Original caption read “Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking”. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

Other pictures depict Michael McNelis, also eight, a Philadelphia newsboy who at the time of the photo had just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia and was found selling papers in a big rain storm.

They are the work of UK based photo colouriser, Tom Marshall, 29, who has painstakingly brought Lewis Wickes Hine’s photographs into the 21st century.

Michael McNelis, age 8, a newsboy. This boy had just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia and was found selling papers in a big rain storm. The photo was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June 1910. The man taking the boy’s details is likely Hine’s assistant. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

“Lewis Wickes Hine was an American sociologist and photographer, whose work was instrumental in changing child labour laws in the United States,” said Tom.

“Hine was my favourite photographer, aside from being technically excellent, his black and white photographs are some of the most important ever taken.

5 year old Preston, a young cartoner in Eastport, Maine, 17th August 1911. Hine said of Preston; “I saw him at work different times during the day, at 7 A.M, in the afternoon, and at 6 P.M., and he kept at it very faithfully for so young a worker”. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

“His record of the first half of the 20th century is a unique glimpse into the real lives of working class America, and his work for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) was instrumental in bringing about change for the nation’s children.

“Hine’s work was not without risk. The immorality of child labour was hidden away from the wider public at the time, and his exposure of the underhand practices posed a threat to the industry.

This photo show garment workers Katrina De Cato (6), Franco Brezoo (11) Maria Attreo (12) and her sister Mattie Attreo (5) at 4pm, 26th January 1910 in New York City. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

“He was threatened with violence and death from factory foremen, and would resort to wearing disguises in order to gain access to the workshops.”

Tom went on to talk about his inspiration for the project and how he goes about reimagining historical images.

“I was inspired to colourise these photos following an article by my friend and fellow colouriser Sanna Dullaway,” he said.

12 year old newsboy Hyman Alpert, who had been selling newspapers for 3 years when this photo was taken in March 1909, in New Haven, Connecticut. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

“As a photo colouriser, my aim is always to try and connect with the photo subjects on another level, something not always possible with a black and white photo.

“Hine’s photos are perfect for this purpose as they are already very engaging pieces.

“The eyes of the children are often the first thing we notice, and his photos are so crisp and focused that I believe the addition of colour really helps to bring them to life.

9 year old Johnnie and the shucking-boss, in Dunbar, Louisiana, March 1911. Shucking is the process of removing shells from shellfish. Tom Marshall / mediadrumworld.com

 

“As always in the digital age it is easy to scroll past black and white photos without giving them a second glance, so I hope people will stop to look at these photos and learn more about the children pictured.”

Pictures like these form part of a new book on iconic colourised photographs called Retrographic by author Michael D. Carroll. The book is currently available to buy on Amazon for £15.38.

For more information visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Retrographic-Historys-Most-Important-Images-Living-Colour/1908211504?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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