This photograph taken at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street by Lewis Hine in 1910 is simply labeled “Mendicants.”
It’s a word you don’t often hear today. Mendicant – a beggar; panhandler.
While you may think the main subject here is the blind man sitting by the pole of the el, that would not be the case The focus of the photograph is the little girl who is begging. She appears aged and streetwise beyond her years. But both of them are mendicants.
Hine’s photographs of children at work in major cities usually focuses on newspaper sellers, shoe shiners, telegraph boys, delivery boys and other street trades. In 1910 mendicant was considered a street trade.
Who are these two people? Father and daughter? Grandfather and granddaughter? Or just two people in need who have teamed up to ply their trade?
Where did they live?
Unfortunately Hine did not get the names, ages and addresses of this girl and blind man, as he did with many of his other subjects. Continue reading