Messenger boy working for Mackay Telegraph Company. Said fifteen years old. Exposed to Red Light dangers. Location: Waco, Texas. (LOC)

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

    Messenger boy working for Mackay Telegraph Company. Said fifteen years old. Exposed to Red Light dangers. Location: Waco, Texas.

    1913 September.

    1 photographic print.

    Title from NCLC caption card.
    Attribution to Hine based on provenance.
    In album: Street trades.
    Hine no. 3559.

    Telegraph industry.
    Bicycles & tricycles.
    United States--Texas--Waco.

    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 7480, v. 3, no. 3559

    OliveRyan, getolina, stvdg, and 515 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 14 more comments

    1. I, the Walrus 47 months ago | reply

      Words cannot describe how much I love this D:

    2. airosmith [deleted] 47 months ago | reply


    3. Omar A. Khan 47 months ago | reply

      Wow what an image! The pipe in his mouth only adds to it.

    4. Paris-Roubaix 47 months ago | reply

      If photographs got Oscars this one should be first in line!

    5. tramsteer 47 months ago | reply

      What a shot, an early British safety bike. So named because they replaced the Ordinary Bicycle (Penny Farthing) which ruddy lethal.
      Note the pneumatic tyres another early example.

    6. Taubchen [deleted] 47 months ago | reply

      This picture intrigues because of it's double nature on several levels.. At the one hand it gives you a feel of what it looked like way back: the clothes are distinct.
      At the other it is a testament of something we don't like.
      The stance of the boy is interesting. You can almost see him thinking; ok let's stand here so this guy can do his interesting stuff. The photographer might even have paid him for his time(which would be irony). He is smoking, so it might be that the boy took this moment to light one up. Why not?
      As such it is just a shot. The double nature comes from the background. It is child labor; in our view this kid is exploited: he should be at school.
      The photo has a double nature because the kid earns money this way and it seems like the photo was made to more or less expose kid labor so it can be abolished.. so in fact the picture is actually aimed at losing this kids job. I wonder if boy would have helped out if the photographer had told him: i am going to take a picture so we can use it to stop you from working.
      This is the double edge of child labor. There was an documentary of an asian girl, perhaps eight years old, who made carpets. Child labor. She and her whole family worked,(slaved might be a better description).. only together they could get enough money to buy the basic needs. Abolish child labor and that income falls away and the family has to struggle harder.
      Another double nature: The kid doesn't look exploited in the picture. He seems almost relaxed and in good spirits.. But actually in the end it would probably have been better if he had attended school.
      I wonder what happened to him.. maybe he became a great sportsman with all his cycling experience?
      You'll never know.
      A very capturing picture..

    7. Michael Neubert 47 months ago | reply

      The reference to "Red Light" dangers has to do with working (at least some of the time) in an area (known as a "red light district") where prostitution was common and one would hope not to find children at all, much less working.

      Such references are common in this child labor related collection - see

    8. Fabiano Bulow 47 months ago | reply

      garoto com estilo!

    9. Barbara (LOC P&P) 47 months ago | reply

      Michael Neubert: Thanks for the helpful explanations about bicycles and the "Red Light dangers" reference. For more information on the nature of messenger service work at the time, see this National Child Labor Committee bulletin from 1912-1913, p. 213: (you may need to scroll down a bit to view the text).

    10. toni lynn53 47 months ago | reply

      wonderful america

    11. holloway steve 46 months ago | reply

      he looks like a survivor. photographs like this always make me wonder what became of the subject.

    12. radfordred 46 months ago | reply

      what a wonderful photo

    13. marywhite376 44 months ago | reply

      I love old photos. they have a soul.

    14. Texas State Library and Archives Commission 37 months ago | reply

      Thanks for sharing this in our "Picture Texas with TSLAC" group (! I shared it on TSLAC's Facebook page ( -Cesar

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