Social Reformers During The Early Years Of The 20th Century

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Many social reformers in the early years of the 20th century focused on the plight of child laborers who worked in both the home and the factory in New York City. One of the pressing issues they sought to bring light to was the dangerous conditions and injuries the children faced, as well as long hours and mistreatment. While many workers during this time faced similar problems, children were particularly vulnerable because they were often encouraged to work by their parents, who needed the extra income, and because they could not speak up about the abuses they faced. Social reformers collected a great amount of evidence, especially through interviews and the use of the rapidly developing technology of photography, eventually succeeding in passing child labor laws that protected these particularly downtrodden workers. Photography was a relatively new technology at the time, and reporters used it to great effect when capturing the different aspects of life as a child laborer. Cameras were more portable and quicker to use than art supplies, and photographs easier to duplicate, so the rapid production and transmission of images meant that more and more depictions of the life of child laborers could enjoy greater awareness. In addition, flash technology meant that photographers could more easily capture images of dimly lit tenements. These photos were reproduced in books and newspapers which received lots of exposure, such as Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, which

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