Tony Casale, an eleven-year-old newsboy in Hartford, Connecticut, faces the camera in the straightforward manner of Lewis Hine's portraits of child laborers. Hine's subjects often appear front and center, surrounded by machinery or the products of their toil. Casale, who often worked until ten at night, appears isolated, his future as bleak as the wall behind him.
Hine and other progressive social reformers were concerned about the fate of children who dropped out of school to enter the work force. Working for the National Child Labor Committee, Hine made thousands of pictures of children at work--in Southern mills, glass factories, fish canneries, tenements, and fields. He recorded their names, their heights, the hours they worked, the money they spent, and such descriptive details as "out past midnight" or "smokes cigars." Hine was one of the first photographers to document the exploitation of child labor, a product of rapid industrialization and urbanization at the beginning of the 1900s.