Sunday, February 3, 2008

Young Coal Miners

This photograph was taken in 1911, and shows young boys who work in the Pennsylvania Coal Company coal mine. They were called "Breaker Boys", and they were from the Hughestown Borough in Pennsylvania. You wonder if any of these young boys were ever able to overcome such adversity.

12 comments:

  1. I doubt it. There's not much you can do on your own when you have no education and black lung, not to mention being so poor your parents have to put you to work. Sad.

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  2. One of the most powerful pictures I've ever seen, I just can't stop staring into their faces. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. my first thought was, I wonder how long they lived? creative googling, found this:
    http://tinyurl.com/27lqjx
    (used google cache to highlight the spot)

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  4. The amazing thing to me is that the one boy has managed such a big smile. I choose to hope that he managed to overcome his circumstances and have a good life.

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  5. Heide,
    Thanks for the post, and the information. 25 year life expectancy . . . wow, I was afraid of that. Anyway, I think it points out how thankful we should be to not be in a situation like that.
    Paul

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  6. Looks like a Dorothy Lange photograph.

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  7. RoadDog,
    Looks a lot like her style and subject matter, but this was taken before her time. Her photographs were primarily in the 1930's.

    Always appreciate your comments. Thanks,
    PJM

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  8. We might do well to wonder how long the child labourers who produce today's cheap goods live...

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  9. Sylvia,
    Good point. I worked with a young engineer from China, and he told incredible stories about conditions for workers in China factories. It was really like US in late 1800's or early 1900's. All for cheap tennis shoes. How unfortunate.

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  10. This was from a series of Photographs by Lewis Heine taken in 1911. Hughestown is a borough of Pittston Pennsylvania (where I live). It is a shame that the contributions of these poor kids and coal miners in general seem to be forgotten outside of the mining areas. A stamp commemorating their contribution is long overdue.

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  11. This is FACT,,my dad worked in the Banning Pa. coal mine when he was 12 years old until he was 33 years old, Then he went to work on the B&O railroad. He used to tell us some hair raising stories. One was how they made pets out of the rats and fed them because if they acted weird and took off running,,they knew it meant something bad was about to happen, and they'd get out. It was in the year 1923. He had to give his mom h is whole check and she'd give him a nickel for himself. Can you see our spoiled kids doing that today? No way... tough life..

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  12. I forgot to add,,,that my dad,,from blog above, lived to be 83 years old,,,he smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes right up to the minute he died,,,he also had black lung,,AND even had Tuberculosis, and was in a TB sanitarium to get well for 2 years,,BUT remarkably, never got lung cancer...go figure.
    I and my siblings always hoped we inherited his lung health.

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