Florida Tobacco Farm

Florida Archives/The Century

Nope, this isn’t slavery. It’s 1910, nearly half a century after the end of the Civil War, smack dab in the middle of the Jim Crow era (laws enforcing racial segregation in the South between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s). Though they aren’t physically segregated in this shot (one farmhand even holds the baby), the economic, educational, and emotional implications are there.

This portrait shows a Florida tobacco farmer with his farmhands. I’m not sure as to why most of the farmhands have their hands over their hearts, pledging allegiance style, but you can see that the whole family is included, from the son to the baby to the dog.

As you can see, tobacco farming doesn’t look too fun.

These children are topping (removing the budding part of the tobacco plant which will, if not removed, flower and produce seeds) and suckering (controlling sucker growth by removing the budding part of the tobacco plant which would otherwise flower and produce seeds) tobacco plants much further north in Buckland, Connecticut, about the same time as the earlier image was taken. Grueling indeed.

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