Playing Child Labor (featuring "Babies in the Mill" and "Dark as a Dungeon")

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The vast majority of these photographs are taken by Lewis Wickes Hine, who was assigned a project called The Pittsburgh Survey.

This survey was to be an all encompassing detailed view of a typical industrial city, showing the gap between the largely unskilled immigrant workers and the comfortable middle class of managers, executives and politicians. The goal of the survey was to promote a rational understanding of the social and economic inequities in Industrial America so a greater public awareness would result in corrective social action (reform).

Between 1908 and 1912 Hine traveled around the United States photographing children as young as 3 years old working in mines, factories, canneries, textile mills, street trades and assorted agricultural industries. These children often worked dangerous jobs for long hours and little pay.

The first song "Babies In the Mill”, was written by Dorsey Dixon. The photographs begin with children working in mills and factories, as well as some other random jobs like selling newspapers, picking fruit, gutting fish and delivering goods. Towards the end of the song, more recent colored photographs of children are shown working in third world nations.

The second song is called "Dark as a Dungeon" written and performed by Merle Travis. Again, the black and white photographs are from Lewis Hines; the colored photographs at the end depict various children working in third world nations. Some of the photos include 14 year old Basillo Vargas, and his 12 year old brother, who are both featured in the film " The Devil's Miner" http://www.thedevilsminer. These boys are from Bolivia, and represent the responsibilities poor children from poor families (without fathers) have to face, regardless of age.


child labour

Is there archival history of child migrants sent to post war Australia from British orphanages? I have read about these children working as farm labourers and given lodgings and food for hard work. The cattle barons accessed this program through the Catholic orphanages. No wages were paid girls who worked as housemaids. domestic servants. Boys were field labourers who worked on vast acres preparing fences, and many other outdoor activities in intense heat. It was a form of child abuse sanctioned by state and church.
Bridget Sweeney

Quick references

From what I understand, Child Migration from England began in the 1600's. 

The first 100 children – ‘vagrants’ – were despatched from the London area to Virginia in the Americas in 1618, their passage arranged by the City Fathers, while the last nine children were flown to Australia in 1967 under the auspices of Barnardo’s.   [ From:  "Child Migration: An Overview and Timeline" ]

You might find "Australian church apologies to child migrants" (and the related articles listed) interesting.   A more personal perspective on the scheme can be read in David Hill's  "The Forgotten Children".


Former Child MIgrants History

There is an oral history project being conducted by the National Library of Australia looking to record interviews with some former Child Migrants. Do please contact the project on

Pound Pup Legacy