Family snapshot, ca. 1900


by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis

by Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin

On this page is a sampling of images and text from America's Children. The book itself contains more than 350 images, as well as excerpts from diaries, letters, oral histories, and journals. Each of the eight major sections is put in context by a one-page introduction.

The Adams arrived with six townspeople at sunrise. We set the stringers and put the kingposts in place. We have made a fine bridge. Father put a brush atop the posts and we all sang and drank. Sarah brought a cake. One man fell into the brook but he was not hurt.
Noah Blake, fifteen years old, in a diary written in 1805

In November 1940, Dorothea Lange captured a migrant cotton picker holding her baby in their home near Buckeye, Maricopa County, Arizona.

Two children choose to join an oddly posed group portrait outside a brothel in Washington state around the turn of the century. It is likely that this photograph was a kind of advertisement for the entertainments offered. It is not known what relationship the children may have had to any of the adults.

Formal studio portrait, 1890s

During World War I, Lula plays "Red Cross nurse" with her brother, Vida, in Washington state.
Boy! wait until the mangoe season is in full blossom, by that I mean when they get ripe, and that's not far-off--it is next month, and I'll surely do some climbing again. I haven't climb trees for so long, it seems. Oh well, it won'd be long now. I told Esperanza about it, and she sayd "That's good," cause that means, we don't have to ask any boys to get mangoes for us we can get them ourselves.
Angeles Monrayo Raymundo, eleven, Waipahu, Oahu, T. H., in her diary on January 10, 1924.

A family of settlers heads west in this photograph taken in the1880s. During the thousands of nineteenth-century treks across the continent, children and their mothers were often casualties of a father's desire for a better life in the West.