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In 1904, a schoolteacher named Lewis W. Hine started photographing immigrants as they arrived at Ellis Island.

Photography turns light into a palpable record of a moment in time, which is incredible when you think about it. And Hine knew just how powerful those moments could be.

An Albanian woman from Italy at Ellis Island in 1905 (left) and an Armenian man in 1926 who was fleeing persecution in Turkey (right). Photos by Lewis W. Hine/The New York Public Library.


Hine was working as a teacher and photographer at the Ethical Culture School in New York City when he started taking his students on field trips to Ellis Island to show them the conditions of millions of immigrants.

He believed that if people could see images of the abuse and injustices that were happening in America, it might make social reform a reality.

And, eventually, his dream started coming true. He's now known for creating images that brought to light scenes of child labor, poor living conditions, unemployment, immigration, and human ingenuity.

After he left his teaching position, he went on to work with the National Child Labor Committee — which lobbied for the abolition of child labor — to document and expose the exploitative practices in the United States. His photos were used in publications all over the world, and they inspired many people to fight for change.

By capturing intangible moments of reality, Hine connected human faces to society's wrongdoings.

Here are some of the thousands of images that Hine took during his life — pictures that brought dignity to millions of Americans and helped enact positive change:

Hine gave voice to the voiceless in an era when communication was limited.

A group of Slavic immigrants at Ellis Island in 1905. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The New York Public Library.

“There are two things I wanted to do. I wanted to show the things that had to be corrected. I wanted to show the things that had to be appreciated,” Hines said about his work.  

Group of immigrants from Italy at Ellis Island in 1905. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The New York Public Library.

He followed the immigrant experience to the tenement buildings in major cities and helped expose terrible living conditions.

A mother and her two children live in one room on the top floor of a building in New York. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The Library of Congress.

His work with the NCLC often required him to sneak into factories and workshops with a disguise to avoid notice.

Two young boys working a spinning frame at a mill in Macon, Georgia, in 1909. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The Library of Congress.

"There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to train them, but to get high profits from their work,” Hines said in 1908.

Workers take a break at the Newberry Mills in South Carolina. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The Library of Congress.

Through reform and laws enacted on the state and federal level, “by 1920 the number of child laborers was cut to nearly half of what it had been in 1910,” according to the National Archives.

Donnie Cole, known as "Our Baby Doffer," hesitantly said his age was 12 when asked by Hine. A doffer is someone who replaces spindles in spinning frames. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The Library of Congress.

His work with National Research Project of the Work Projects Administration exposed the indescribable conditions of everyday people during the Great Depression.

Callie Campbell, 11 years old, picking cotton in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. When asked about her job, she said, "No, I don't like it very much." Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The Library of Congress.

His photos championed hardworking everyday people, which is most vividly shown in his incredible photos of the construction of the Empire State Building.

Two ironworkers connecting beams on the Empire State Building in 1931. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/The New York Public Library.

Hine was a beacon of humanism at a time when the world was rapidly changing. He was a champion for the exploited. He was an activist.

He was also an incredible pioneer of documentary photography in America.

Despite the power of his work, the changing times of the Great Depression stalled interest in his work, and he died in poverty in 1940. Over the years, though, his legacy has grown exponentially since his death. His investigative photos are still a stark reminder of the kinetic effect images can have on society.

By recognizing the need for change and using his photography skills to help usher it along, Hine demonstrated the true power of images.

That's something that inspires me, and other photographers, daily.

His photos are humbling reminders of the struggles of everyday people at the dawn of the modern era. They're a reminder that each of us can change the world, even if it's in a small way. And they're a reminder of the hurdles America has overcome to get to where we are today.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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