Only within the last two decades has Lewis Wickes Hine been acknowledged as one of America's principal twentieth-century photographers. Best known for his moving portraits of immigrants on Ellis Island, of child laborers in factories and mines, and of steel workers balanced on high girders of the Empire State Building, Hine was far ahead of his time in using the camera to document social conditions in America. As this ground-breaking study demonstrates, Hine was also one of the very first photojournalists.
In World War I, Hine became a photographer for the Red Cross, assigned to record the devastation in Europe and to document the need for relief work. In the spring and summer of 1918 he photographed war refugees and hospitalized soldiers in France (as well as glimpses
of a prewar Paris), and in November he toured war-torn Italy, Greece, and Serbia. Hine returned to Paris
and then set out again to document the suffering in formerly German-occupied areas of
Belgium and northern France. Some of these pictures appeared in Red Cross publications, but most of them went into that organization's archives, never to be seen again for sixty years. At the end of world War II, the Red Cross deposited its photograph collection--some 50,000
pictures--in the Library of Congress, where Hine's work was effectively "lost" due to an eccentric filing code that baffled historians for nearly forty years.
Author Daile Kaplan finally was able to break the code, identify Hine's photographs, and reintroduce to the world the best of
this master's "lost" photographs--an event that not only brings to light a
completely new body of Hine's work but gives him his due, at last,
as a true pioneer of photojournalism.