Help identify ‘the Mill children' of Adams


Famed child labor photographer Lewis Hine's images of mill workers as young at 6 spurred the nation's first child labor laws in the early 20th century. Hine's roughly 5,000 images portrayed a generation of American youth bound to hard and at times dangerous labor, little education, marginal nutrition, little pay and little chance of getting out. While he identified hundreds of mill children in his photos, he curiously did not identify most of the youngsters working in mills in Northern Berkshire County.

Hine's work and those mysteries have inspired artist Ralph Brill of North Adams and others to present Hine's local photographs in an upcoming exhibition. "The Mill Children" exhibition, presented by The Brill Gallery, will run from June through December at 5 Hoosac St. -- a former mill building -- in Adams.

In conjunction, The Eagle occasionally will present a Hine's photograph on this page. Perhaps a son or daughter or grandchild or great-grandchild might recognize a family member and put a name to a face?

In today's photo, we present what we know to be a 15-year-old girl photographed by Hine at the Berkshire Mills in Adams in 1916. If she rings a bell, contact area historian Joe Manning -- he's working with Brill on the exhibition -- at or (413) 584-0679. Manning will investigate promising leads and we'll share those findings here.


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