Lewis Wickes Hine is well-known for his work photographing child labor practices. Beginning in 1908, Hine became a staff photographer for the NCLC with a difficult and unusual assignment. Often hiding his camera and tricking his way past bosses, Hine even learned to write with his hand inside his pocket in order to get accurate captions without giving himself away. His work—famously never touched up for effect—depicting children laboring in sweatshops, coal mines, textile mills, and on farms outraged the public and shamed the government into acting. His photographs provided the NCLC with the leverage it needed to advance the enactment of state and federal laws to protect the rights of children in the workplace, including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which was the first major Federal child labor law ever enacted.
In the 1980s, to honor Hine’s work, the NCLC created an award in his name. These nationally recognized awards, now in their 28th year, are presented annually by the National Child Labor Committee to ten recipients--five professionals and five volunteers--for their unheralded and exceptional service to young people. Each award Honoree receives $1,000 and a trip to the Awards ceremony in New York City, accompanied by a guest. Over the past two decades, more than 200 people have received the Lewis Hine Awards.