Vance, a Trapper Boy, 15 years old. Has trapped for several years in a West Va. Coal mine. $.75 a day for 10 hours work. All he does is to open and shut this door: most of the time he sits here idle, waiting for the cars to come ... (LOC)

Hine, Lewis Wickes,, 1874-1940,, photographer.


Vance, a Trapper Boy, 15 years old. Has trapped for several years in a West Va. Coal mine. $.75 a day for 10 hours work. All he does is to open and shut this door: most of the time he sits here idle, waiting for the cars to come. On account of the intense darkness in the mine, the hieroglyphics on the door were not visible until plate was developed. Location: West Virginia.


1908 September.


1 photographic print.



Title from NCLC caption card.

Attribution to Hine based on provenance.

In album: Coal mines.

Hine no. 0163.




Coal miners.

Coal mining.

United States--West Virginia.


Format: Photographic prints.


Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.


Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,


Part Of: Photographs from the records of the National Child Labor Committee (U.S.) 2004667950


General information about the Lewis Hine child labor photos is available at


Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL):


Call Number: LOT 7477, no. 0163



  • Elijah 3y

    Most of the kids in these photos look happy or at least not sad. Then there is this boy.
  • EmBee's Web PRO 3y

    Just terrible.
  • Art Siegel PRO 3y

    It looks like Vance [Palmer?] made the chalk drawing on the door, too.
  • TomDubya1 3y

    Window on the Past. Excellent Photo and Description.
  • Joe Zachs 3y

    Its good that that the additional information is given regarding his nature of "work"
  • Posteriormente 3y

    Poor birds...
  • sarflondondunc PRO 3y

    Terrible? I bet the choice was this or starve
  • Ôyvind PRO 3y

    thats why it's "terrible", it's this or starve.. Let's not forget that this is the reality for a lot of kids every day even in 2012...
  • EmBee's Web PRO 3y

    There was nothing but a lack of compassion keeping the adults at the mine from paying for a lantern or flashlight and allowing him to bring something like a book, comic book or sketchpad to pass the time. Or they could hire 2 boys at once so they could have human interaction and keep their minds working while otherwise isolated in a pitch black cave. 5 hours a day would be too long for many strong, grown men to endure and not suffer some bad health effects. 10 hour days could have been split up between men from the mine by some of them working at this post in 2 hour shifts.
  • cosgaara 3y

    incredible photo showing a piece of history
  • Theresa Pye 3y

    The employers did not care if the effects of the work was bad on their employees, whether they were adult or child. Even if these employees made it through the work week, they were forced to pay money to the company store for food and supplies and pay rent to the company for the privilege of living in a company owned shack. These shacks were horrendous and certainly not worth the amount of money that they paid.
    How many children worked at the turn of the 20th century? The 1900 U.S. Census surveyed 2 million children working in a variety of occupations including agriculture, factory work and mining. This census did not produce accurate numbers, however. The reason was, is there were many segments of child employees that were not considered and counted as working. Four prolific groups form the numbers that were not counted: 1.) Children that worked after school were not counted; no matter how many hours a child went to school or worked after school hours they were not counted. Many children went to school only a few hours a day and then worked 12 hours. Due to the disqualification they were not counted. 2.) Children working in agriculture; 3.) Children under the age of 10 were not counted as working. There were a large number of very small children, even under the age of five that worked in agriculture as pickers; working in canning factories counted as working in agriculture (represented by the oyster shucker photo of 'Manuel"; in mines such as "Vance" in the above picture or as a breaker boy; 3.) in factories, particularly textile factories. Children were often used in textile factories because they could easily get around moving machinery.

    Hundreds, if not thousands of children were killed and maimed in the course of working. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 eliminated most forms of child labor. There are and have been loopholes in agriculture to which children have been working to include positions on commercial farms. These farms hire "families" to work, and even young children can be included in this agreement.

    Sadly, there are have been some calls by politicians withing in the last couple of years to repeal child labor laws.
  • Art Siegel PRO 3y

    Theresa Pye
    I'm not sure which part of that she didn't understand.
  • EmBee's Web PRO 3y

    Art Siegel Thank you, artolog. :) Maybe somebody needs new glasses or has been sitting in front of her monitor for too long...
94 faves
Taken circa 1910
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