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Newsboys aka Newsies

Newspaper hawkers, aka newsboys or newsies - the boys, and sometimes girls, who sold newspapers on city streets around the turn of the 20th century. Read more >>

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" That's what we hear when we think of newsies. But the actual plight of homeless children of the mid to late 1800's and the early 1900's doesn't fit the image of a well dressed young man yelling "Extra! Extra!". In 1872, one man wrote: "There are 10,000 children living on the streets of New York . . . The newsboys constitute an important division of this army of homeless children. You see them everywhere . . .They rend the air and deafen you with their shrill cries. They surround you on the sidewalk and almost force you to buy their papers. They are ragged and dirty. Some have no coats, no shoes and no hat." There was a reason for their tenacity - they had to support themselves, provide food and shelter, with just the pennies a day that they earned by buying papers from the publishers and selling them on the streets. Publishers profited handsomely on the profits they earned from these poor young boys - and sometimes girls.

By 1899, the practices of the publishers - especially William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer - were putting a squeeze on the newsboys. The children were forced to buy a set number of papers and they couldn't return the unsold copies, cutting into their profits. Hearst and Pulitzer had also raised the price of bulk papers while the selling price per copy remained the same. So the newsboys held a strike led by Kid Blink - he got his nickname because he was blind in one eye. Kid Blink declared: "Friens and feller workers. Dis is a time which tries de hearts of men. Dis is de time when we'se got to stick together like glue.... We know wot we wants and we'll git it even if we is blind." Their actions disrupted traffic in New York City and almost closed down the publishers.

The strike resulted in Hearst and Pulitzer promising to buy back unsold newspapers. But the children still worked long hours for pennies a day, living in whatever conditions they could find - for instance, two of the boys lived in an old burned-out safe they found on the street. It wasn't until child labor laws were instituted in the 1930's that newsies began to disappear.

These are the actual photos of newsies and their living conditions. Many of them will break your heart - they were taken by photographers who were trying to change their pitiful young lives. << Read less
James Morgan, 119 French St. Newsboy. 9 years of age. Selling newspaper 4 years. Average earnings 50 cents per week. Selling papers own choice. Don't smoke. Visits saloons. Works 6 hours per day. Investigator, Edward F. Brown. Location: Wilmington, Delaware / Photo by Lewis W. Hine., May, 1910.
People in this photo:
James Morgan
Born: 1901
Newsboy. Little Fattie. Less than 40 inches high, 6 years old. Been at it one year. May 9th, 1910. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.
Jefferson St. Gang of newsboys at 10:00 P.M. over campfire in corner lot behind bill-board. Jefferson St. near Olive. May 7, 1910. Witness E.N. Clopper,. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.
Headline appears to be "Judges avert probe and Save Blakeley."
There are a number of these young newsboys in the Alabama cities. See Alabama report. Location: Mobile, Alabama.
San Antonio newsboys need supervision. Here are three brothers - Sasser family, 729 Porter Street. The youngest one is five years old and makes 30 cents a day. Lawrence is seven years old but "he spends all he earns" his brother says. Boyce [?], makes 75 cents a day, and has a hard time keeping the others at work. Boyce is ten years old. They all start out at 6:00 A.M. and sell until 9:00 and 10:00 P.M. nearly every day except Sunday. I found them selling after ten P.M. Boyce said "We don't go to school; got to sell papers. Father is sick." Location: San Antonio, Texas.
Group of Newsboys on Frankfort Street near World Building. Witness, Fred McMurrry. Location: New York, New York (State) / Photo by Lewis W. Hine.
A young newsie holding a sign which reads "Titanic Disaster - Great Loss of Life. Evening News" is surrounded by gentlemen on their way to work reading the local newspaper regarding the tragedy. The Titanic was advertised as "unsinkable" and because of this, and the fact that some of the wealthiest and best known people of the time were on the Titanic, the sinking of the ship was big news at the time. The loss of life was massive, Of the approximately 1317 passengers and 885 crew, less than 1/3 survived. There was confusion about the exact count of passengers and crew since many people cancelled their bookings at the last minute, others traveled under aliases, and some were counted twice on casualty lists. The Titanic hit an iceberg at 11;40p on April 14th and sunk in the early morning hours of April 15th . . . this is a picture of one of the earliest reports of the sinking at a time in which papers were the king of news reporting.
Patsy, eight year old newsboy, Newark, N.J. Says he makes fifty cents a day. - Aug. 1, 1924. Location: Newark, New Jersey.
Photo of Roland, an eleven year old boy, in Newark New Jersey - taken in 1924. Roland was a newsboy, sometimes called a "newsie".
This is a photo of Patsy, 1924 added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Two of the very youngest newsboys I could find in New Orleans. Seven and nine years old. Such little fellows are rare. Location: New Orleans, Louisiana. (Caption by Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer)
Newsboy asleep on stairs with papers. Location: [Jersey City, New Jersey].
Another young newsboy in Hartford, Conn. August 26, 1924. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
Group of newsboys from 7 years to 21. There were no newsgirls at this time. On the Green at New Haven, Conn. Aug. 26, 1924. Location: New Haven, Connecticut.
Two of the youngest newsboys in Hartford, Connecticut. They are cousins eight and ten years old. August 25, 1924. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
Newsboys and newsgirl. (Mary Malchade) (9 years old.) Getting afternoon papers, Park Row. Location: New York, New York (State)
People in this photo:
Wm. Gross, 516 Tatnall St. Newsboy, 15 years of age. Selling papers 5 years. Average earnings 50 cents per week. Father, carpenter, $18 week. Selling newspapers own choice, to get money to go to moving picture shows. Visits saloons. Smokes sometimes.
People in this photo:
William Gross
Born: 1895
Where some of the newsboy's money goes. Location: Wilmington, Delaware.
Newsboys. A Heavy Man Old Timer. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.
Truant newsboy, Broadway and Locust Sts. 11 A.M. Location: St. Louis, Missouri.
The average age of newsboys in New Orleans is very high. Many young men like these, and few little ones. Location: New Orleans, Louisiana.
This is a photo of Newsboys, Utica, New York added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Joseph Harris a 9 year old newsboy in Hartford, Conn. Been selling 1 1/2 years. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
People in this photo:
Joseph Harris
Born: 1900
Newsboys, 9, 10 and 11 years old. Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Group of newsboys at the Times Office, Hartford, Conn. The newsgirls mingle and jostle these boys in the office and in the yard. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
Hartford, Conn., newsboys. Boy in middle, Joseph De. Lucco, has been selling for 8 years. Was arrested for stealing papers a while ago. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
People in this photo:
8:30 P.M. Group of newsboys selling at the depot, Hartford, Conn. Smallest boy 11 years old. Location: Hartford, Connecticut.
This is a photo of Small Hartford newsboys. Some are 7 and 8 years old. Many... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Shown here is nine year old newsie Tommy De Lucco taken in Hartford Connecticut in March of 1909. Tommy began selling news papers at age seven in 1907. Photos like these were taken by photographer Lewis W. Hines. They were instrumental in changing public opinion and reforming child labor laws.
People in this photo:
Tommy De Lucco
Born: 1900
Hartford, CT, United States
This is a photo of [Using a street telescope, a newsboy glimpses Halley's... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Old newsboys. Location: St. Louis, Missouri. added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Bridgeport, Conn. Newsboys. One of the smallest has been... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Newsboys, 9, 10 and 11 years old. Location: New Haven,... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Some of Newark's small newsboys. Afternoon. Location:... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of 9:00 P.M. Bridgeport, Conn. These boys 8 and 10 years... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
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