17 Rare Images Of Early 1900s Alabama That Will Haunt You

During the early 1900s in Alabama, it wasn’t uncommon for young children to work in factory mills. They did this for little to no pay, and even sometimes working as many as 19 hours a day. In addition to working long hours, the working conditions were horrible. Most of the children were beaten, verbally abused, and some were even killed while on the job.

Avondale Mills was a system of textile mills that were primarily located in Alabama. Avondale, a suburb of Birmingham, was the location of the first mill, which was the basis of the company’s name.

Avondale Mills was founded in 1897. Until it closed in 2006, it had employed thousands of people. In 1900, out of 774 employees, 187 were children between the ages of 8 and 15. Most of them had little to no education. According to state law at the time, children had to be educated and couldn’t work in factories unless they were at least 12 years old. The factory owner was able to get around this because the children were recruited to “assist” their parents in the factory, so they weren’t “official” employees.

In 1910, Lewis Wickes Hine, famous photographer and American sociologist, visited Avondale Mills. He snapped a few photos of the child workers, in addition to interviewing them.

Listed below are 17 rare images that Lewis Wickes Hine snapped of these child workers.

Note: The words within the quotations belong to Lewis Wickes Hine, and a “doffer” is someone who removes empty bobbins, pins or spindles from machines and replaces them with new ones.

What do you think of these historic images? It’s incredibly sad to sit and think about everything these innocent children endured while working at this textile factory. Nearly two decades after these photos were taken, the Great Depression began. For 20 rare photos that were captured in Alabama during this dark time in history, click here.