Photo by Lewis Hine. Used with permission of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-01700. Photo by Lewis Hine/Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Monday was international Labor Day, and Maine’s labor movement has a long history. This photo, taken in 1909, shows sweepers and other child laborers employed at the Hill and Bates mills in Lewiston.

The photographer, Lewis Hine, noted that only one or two of the children could speak English.

That year, new employment laws were passed, restricting working hours for women and children to 58 hours per week. It was hailed as victory by labor groups for shaving 20 minutes per day off the old law.

Previously, Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, addressed union members and the public in Lewiston, condemning child labor in the local mills, according to University of Maine historian Charles Scontras. Said Gompers: “Who interests themselves in this matter? Is it the capitalists? No. Is it the churches? No. They pray for the children Sunday and prey upon them the rest of the week.”