1911

Posted by Ellen

We know four small facts about the life of this boy, David Leung.

1. He was born in 1893 in San Francisco.

2. In 1911, he was photographed by eccentric New England art photographer F. Holland Day; like millions of American children of that era, young David wore a sailor suit for his portrait, but unlike all the millions of others, he actually smiled for the camera.

3. When he registered for the draft in World War I, David listed his residence as Manchester, New Hampshire, and wrote that he was of Mongolian descent.

4. In 1920, census-takers found David Leung living in Boston and working as a restaurant manager.

The photographer, F. Holland Day, was probably the leading American photographer of the early twentieth century and the first to pursue photography as an artistic endeavor. He was also fascinated by the immigrants then flooding American cities and spent much of his time with immigrant children, photographing them but also reading to them and tutoring them. He mentored a number of children in Boston, notably a Lebanese boy named Kahlil Gibran.

Posted by Ellen

Arthur Havard was fourteen years old in 1911 when his picture was taken at work one day, outside the #6 shaft of the coal mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Havard's job was to drive the mules that hauled coal along tracks from the working face deep in the mine all the way up to daylight. Many boys worked in the mine for years as mule drivers until they finally grew big enough to wield a pick and work as regular miners.

It was another world back then. Yet it wasn't all that long ago; Havard's children were born in the 1920s, and some are still alive today.

Here is a description of how children worked in the mines of Pennsylvania, provided by the son of a mule driver like Havard:

My dad was a 'mule driver' in a Western Pennsylvania bituminous coal mine as a youth. His job was to guide the mule and coal cart on tracks out of the mine. On the way out, he would make sure that no clumps of coal would fall off the cart. If they did he would have to pick up the coal, climb to the top of the load and replace the fallen coal on top of the load. The coal company had a bell at the exit tunnel hanging down to ring as it was hit on the way out. If the bell did not ring, the team who cut, dug and loaded the coal would not be paid for a full load. He could never let that bell not to ring. That team of miners were his relatives and neighbors in the same Coal Patch.