The Boston Newsboys’ Republic

October 1909: newsboys gather outside the offices of the Boston Journal.

These days, with newspapers an endangered species, the newsboy, the young boy who hawked papers in the street, is a real dinosaur.

Just the year before this photo was taken by sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine, photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, Boston’s newsboys got organized.

The city’s newsboys elected a constitutional convention, which met on June 17, 1908. 3,000 newsies arrived to ratify their founding document, creating the Boston Newsboy’s Republic, to govern all the city’s teenage newspaper-hawkers.

The newly formed government would raise the minimum age for newsboys and set a curfew at 8pm, freeing up more time in the evenings for all sellers to spend their hard-won earnings at the movies. They also established the Boston Newsboy’s Trial Court, where young judges, including Judge Harry Hornstein, age 16, heard cases and handed out judgments.

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