In the late 19th century, progressive journalist Jacob Riis photographed urban life in order to buildsupport for social reform. Riis also wrote descriptions of his subjects that, to some, sound condescending and stereotypical. In this lesson, students look at Riis’s photographs and read his descriptions of subjects to explore the context of his work and consider issues relating to the trustworthiness of his depictions of urban life.
Image: Photo of street children in "sleeping quarters" taken by Jacob Riis in 1890. From the Library of Congress.