Primary Source

Children Working in a Village [Photographs]


These photographs are included in an archive with over 600 images all taken by U.S. airman Glenn S. Hensley in 1945 in various locations where he was stationed. The island of Akyab in the Bay of Bengal, which is called Sittwe today, was occupied during World War II, first by the Japanese, then, in 1945, by the British and the Americans. It was a strategically important airfield from which supplies could be airlifted into Burma. These are two of a series of photographs documenting four different ways in which children pounded or ground grain for use. These small children wielded heavy hardwood implements for hulling rice or grinding grain. The tools have a timeless quality and show obvious signs of constant use. Similarly, the chores that the village children carry out in these images, and drawing water in others, were typical children's activities.

Hensley served the U.S. Army as a professional reconnaissance photographer. He and other American photographers Robert Keagle and Frank Bond had access to darkroom facilities, and often accompanied one another on photo excursions among civilians, so that each man's archive contains shots of the same scenes and people. For this reason, it is likely that wherever they went, "everyday" scenes took on an extraordinary quality for the people depicted. The archive, according to Hensley, was created and shipped to the U.S. for his wife to use in teaching world history courses in Missouri during World War II.


"The Digital South Asia Library - Details for four forms of grinding grain"; "The Digital South Asia Library - Details for four forms of grinding grain", Digital South Asia Library (accessed May 22, 2009).

How to Cite This Source

"Children Working in a Village [Photographs]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #298, (accessed June 15, 2021). Annotated by Susan Douglass