In Massachusetts, Tireless Historian Links Dallas's Distant Past With the Present

When I first began posting those Lewis Hine photos of Dallas child workers, taken in the fall of 1913, I pointed your direction toward the work of Massachusetts historian Joe Manning, who runs the Lewis Hine Project and has spent the better part of the last several years trying to track down the descendants of the kids in those photos. On Friday, Manning in turn took note of my interest in these pictures -- then took it one extraordinary step further.

Using the original Unfair Park items -- featuring newsies Louis Shuman and his 11-year-old brother and cotton mill workers Rosy Phillips and her brother Exie -- Manning went back to the Library of Congress's archives and pulled all the Hine photos featuring Dallas child workers. He then began sifting through old Census records, online grave-site finders, yellowed obits and any other official doc he could get his hands on -- no easy task, given the fact Hine misspelled some of the names during the course of his research and got some of the ages wrong. (For instance, newsies Louie and Rudy Kartis were actually Rudolph L. Kartous and Louis J. Kartous -- sons of Tony and Fannie Katrous, Manning discovered, immigrants who arrived in the U.S. from either Hungary or Czechoslovakia in 1909.)

As a result, not only does he offer more information about the kids in those pictures -- but, in the case of Rosa "Rosy" Mae Phillips, he found her daughter. Amazing stuff. He's constantly updating his efforts here: "Tracking Down the Dallas Newsies."

We've been exchanging e-mails for several days, and when I told him yesterday how astounded, impressed and moved I was by his efforts to reconnect our city's distant past with the present, this is what he wrote back:

I am so grateful for this opportunity. I had no idea that I would be so successful. It's the most rewarding work I have ever done. The most amazing thing is that most descendants haven't seen the photos, so it's a huge deal for them to see their parents or grandparents as children.

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