A "breaker boy" was a coal-mining worker whose job was to separate impurities from coal by hand in a coal breaker in the United States and also in the United Kingdom. Breaker boys were primarily children. The use of breaker boys began in the mid-1860s in the United States and the United Kingdom. Although public disapproval of the employment of children as breaker boys existed by the mid-1880s, the practice did not end until the 1920s.
Lewis Wickes Hine - (1874-1940) was an American sociologist, photographer and humanist. He used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States.
Hine began photographing subjects in New York in 1903, including, immigrants at Ellis Island, and immigrants as they settled in America. In 1909, Hine took photographs of child labor practices for the National Child Labor Committee, At the end of World War I, Hine was sent abroad by the American Red Cross to photograph relief activities. After the war, he continued to photograph the workingman and industry, such as the construction of the Empire State Building in 1931. A collection of his industrial photographs were published in 1932 in the book "Men at Work". Read more
Credit: National Archives