Young Oyster Tongers, 1911

A supposed 14-year-old digs for oysters in the Bay.

The caption card associated with this 1911 photograph from the National Child Labor Committee Collection (NCLC) reads: “Fred, a young oyster fisher, working on an oyster boat in Mobile Bay, the Reef, near Bayou La Batre, said he was 14, but not likely.”

A photographer for the NCLC, Lewis Wickes Hine was instrumental in changing child labor laws in the U.S. The Wisconsin native’s job was often dangerous, and he was known to don many disguises to avoid the wrath of factory police or foremen. Hine posed as a postcard vendor, Bible salesman, fire inspector and sometimes an industrial photographer who claimed to be documenting machinery. Hine has been inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.

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