Inez Johnson (9 years old) and Lily, her cousin (7 years old) during May 1911. Both were helping Mrs. Johnson, a spooler in the Tupelo Cotton Mills.
An interesting online collection of photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940) at the Library of Congress website are from the National Child Labor Committee. Hines was one of several investigators working for the committee. This committee prepared reports on labor conditions and their impact on the lives of workers, generally concentrating on a particular industry or region. Hines documented working conditions of children in the United States between 1908 and 1924.
The collection (to view the photographs, click the link: Search This Collection) consists of more than 5,100 photographic prints and 355 glass negatives, given to the Library of Congress, along with the NCLC records, in 1954 by Mrs. Gertrude Folks Zimand, acting for the NCLC in her capacity as chief executive.
Included in the online collection are a dozen photographs of the Tupelo Cotton Mill from 1911. During 1900 citizens of Tupelo in neighboring Lee County organized the mill. This mill was the town’s first large industry and was powered by five steam engines and at first employed 250 workers to operate 10,000 spindles and 320 looms to produce demin, pin checks, shirtings, and madras. The complex grew to include a dress factory, shirt factory, and a cottonseed products factory. Located near the railroad south of the downtown area, many area citizens of northeastern Mississippi moved to Tupelo to work here.
Workers at the several plants lived together in a village near the railroad. Today this area is known as Historic Mill Village and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
In this large collection of online photographs are also scenes from mills in the following Mississippi locations: Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Columbus, Kosiusko, Laurel, Magnolia, McComb, Meridian, Starkville, Pass Christian, Water Valley, West Point, Winona and Yazoo City.
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [LC-DIG-nclc-02138]