The Chisholm Trail Museum is hosting a traveling exhibit of photography by Lewis Hine through Nov. 22.
“Child Labor in Oklahoma: Photographs by Lewis Hine, 1916–1917” is a traveling exhibit from the Oklahoma History Center curated by Theresa Bragg, Jim Meeks and Lori Oden. The exhibit highlights a collection of 25 photographs taken by Hine while he was in Oklahoma more than 100 years ago.
Hine mainly focused on major cities, but he took brief trips to other parts of the country, including Oklahoma, to document child labor. Hine photographed in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Shawnee, Okmulgee, Sulphur and a few other small communities in the state.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law. The National Child Labor Committee, founded in 1904, had finally accomplished its first goal, a news release stated. Hiring Hine in 1908 to document child laborers was pivotal to their cause. He was one of the first photographers to use the photo medium to document the human condition in order to make positive changes. Hine once said, “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug a camera.”
Although his photographs moved the nation to create child labor laws, Hine died in poverty and was unrecognized in 1940. Decades later, his life’s work would become synonymous with social reform documentary photography.
An exhibit catalogue also is available for free while supplies last. The program is sponsored in part by Oklahoma Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.