The Young Bike Messengers of the South (23 Photos)

In Southern cities in the U.S. from 1900-1930, many boys and young men found employment with telegraph companies or local drugstores as bike messengers.  While the streets up north were typically lined with "newsboys", cities like Nashville and Birmingham were teeming with young fellows zooming in and out of traffic.  These photos from 1908-1917 by Lewis Hine give you a rare glimpse in to the unique culture they developed.  

 

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"A typical group of Postal Messengers in Norfolk, Va. Smallest on left end, Wilmore Johnson, been there one year. Works days only. The Postal boys are not nearly so young, in Norfolk and also in other Virginia cities, as are the Western Union boys."  June 1911

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April 1912

"Wilbur H. Woodward, Washington, D.C., Western Union messenger 236, one of the youngsters on the border-line, (15 yrs. old) works until 8 P.M. only."

 

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June 1911

"Hodges Gallop, Western Union Messenger No. 16, Norfolk, Va.... Been working here one month. He, and several other very young boys, work until 10:30 P.M."