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tv   The Civil War The Emancipation Legacy in Photos  CSPAN  September 15, 2020 9:21pm-10:12pm EDT

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eight eastern. enjoy american history tv this week, and every weekend on c-span 3. >> you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span 3, explore our nations past. c-span 3, created by americas cable television company as a public service, and brought to you today by your television provider. now a conversation from university of massachusetts about slavery, emancipation, and have freed african americans used productively as a means of independence and self expression. this is about 50 minutes. >> all right, good evening. i'm peter carmichael, professor of history yet ginsburg college, i'm also the director of the civil institute. is my pleasure to introduce barbara krauthamer. she's associate professor of
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history university of massachusetts at amherst, or should he sits scorches at ability history, slavery, emancipation, and native american history. first book, which i have four in front of me, her book entitled black slaves, indian masters, slavery, emancipation, and citizenship in the american south. it's quite a title. published by the university of north carolina press. this book details the untold story of the enslavement -- barbara has also co-authored a photographic history of slavery, emancipation and freedom published in 2013, published by temple university press, and it is also for sale in our bookstore. tonight, she will be speaking about her recent work and the top is entitled envisioning
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emancipation, black americans and the end of slavery. please welcome barbara. (applause) >> well, hello, good evening. thank you for saying this late into the night. thank you for saying awake. thank you, peter, for the invitation and the introduction, and allison, who has made sure that everything happened seamlessly from massachusetts to gettysburg. tonight, i want to talk to you about the book that i coauthored with debra willis. debra ellis, if you don't know who she is, she is the leading scholar in the history of african american photography. a mcarthur award winner. i mean, just a brilliant woman
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and a dear friend of mine. and she and i were colleagues for many years, and over the years had many conversations about photographs of enslaved people that we came across in the course of doing other research projects, and i would say to her, you know, you are the videographer scholar, explain why i have never read anything about the history of the degree of slavery and emancipation, and she would say to me, i don't know, you are the historian of slavery and emancipation, you tell me. and so, for truly a decade, she and i would sort of go to lunch, go to dinner, have a drink, and show each of these photographs and one day we said, you know, there may actually be a book project here. and the book, indeed, turned out to be envisioning emancipation. our question in this project, and one that we are just starting to get to work on in the upcoming months was what did freedom look like? right? we know a lot about illegal
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history and the political history of the debates over slavery, of the civil war, and every construction, but we wanted to really take this question to a visual perspective, and ask, sort of, how is freedom emancipation represented, and how did african americans represent themselves? really, the heart of our project was the history of african americans through their own eyes. how they saw themselves and represented themselves. at the more scholarly level, we were curious about using photographs and seeing them, reading the visual text as it were as both artifacts, as both the relic of the pass and also as historical sources on emancipation and it's legacies. obviously, the most lasting legacy for the purpose of this week weekend is the history of reconstruction. we are curious to see what we can do with these photographs to understand that history, how
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is narrated and how was preserved by african americans and also how african americans were represented in a visual telling of that history of emancipation and it's legacies. one so what i'm going to do tonight, there is no illuminated copy of the emancipation proclamation, what i will do is take you through some of the images that we discuss and right about in the book. there are some that i will show you quickly and will linger on. i should say as we putting this book together we look through thousands and thousands of images from archives both in the u.s. and abroad. early on are editor said, you can include 75 images. and we thought, that is never, never going to work. we came to the editor with about 250 and they said, we can do 75. so we went back to a pile of 2:50 and we got it down to maybe 200, and we went back to the other and he said maybe you
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can do 100. and we said 200, and back and forth. finally we didn't tell them how many we submitted and we're sort of hoping they wouldn't counts and clearly no one counted to carefully because the book came out. some of the images are in the book and some are not. when we started and we're thinking about what does freedom look like, we thought it was important to think about what does slavery look like in the history of photography. much of a scholarship especially in the u.s. context argues that photography when it arrived in the u.s. from france in the late 18 forties, early fifties, had a profound democratizing effect on american culture. that the technology became relatively affordable relatively quickly. many americans great and modest could afford to have their pictures made. as we thought about it, we thought this line of argument and interpretation did not fit at all with what we are seeing that photograph southern slave
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to people. so we begin the book thinking about slavery and photography and really arguing quite strenuously that the history of photography for african americans was not one about this democratic expansion of american culture in antebellum period. we began with some of the more famous images that you've probably seen, the dicaprio tapes made in 1850 which is an interesting year that we will get back to of enslaved africans and their american born children debra they were made in south carolina under the direction of a harvard's scientist he wanted to try to document his theories of poly genesis, separate orders of human beings, separate creations of separate species. so we had a series of these made and you can see -- i don't have a laser pointer, but you can see on the left-hand side of the screen there that this is handwritten
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labels. this is jack taylor. plantation of mr. taylor from south carolina. there are a number of pictures like that that show those african enslaved people and their american-born progeny, again with the attempt of using photography of presenting visual image of difference in hierarchy. there are others that have women with their. breasts exposed. many scholars have argued, right, that this is really part of the scientific project and wasn't intended as sort of a pornographic endeavor. and i would suggest that, in fact, the two are very closely intertwined, right, that forcing black women to strip and reveal their breasts for the camera was both part of this, quote unquote, scientific endeavor, but that in and of itself was very much based in ideas about black women's hyper sexuality, lack of morality, lack of dignity and lack of respectability. this image is actually the one
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that really got us thinking we need to pull all of these pictures together and do a book. this is an image that's a wanted notice for a run away slave, a woman named dolly. one of the first things that caught our attention of course was that there is a photograph attached to the top of this handwritten notice which automatically raised a number of questions for us of why did this woman's master have her picture? right? what prompted him to have a photograph of this enslaved woman made? we still don't know the answer, though we have some theories. in the text of the notice he announces that dolly has run away from the yard behind his house in augusta. it's important to note the date of dolly's escape. she escapes april 7th, 1863. so after the emancipation proclamation but clearly she is liberating herself, right? her master surmises -- and i do love this, right, he describes
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her body and in this way in both his written words and his presentation of her photograph really conveys that power to own and control and look at and proclaim who she is. so he says she's shy and she hesitates when spoken to, but that she has very nice teeth. he says that she must have been enticed away by a white man because she has never changed owners and is a stranger to the city. so of course he tells this narrative, right, where never changed owners as if that would have been her choice, right? we know of course it would not have been her choice. but so her master, this very prominent south carolinian louis manigault creates this narrative of domestic harmony and bliss. when you delve into the manigault papers, the overseer reports upon investigation of dolly's disappearance -- and i should note, of the hundreds of
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slaves that louis manigault owned many of them, dozens of them escaped over the years, both men and women and of all of those who escaped dolly was the only one who was never captured. she was the only one who was never returned to his possession. when manigault's overseeing interrogated the other enslaved people in the household they told a story of a free black man who worked at a hotel across the street who had been coming around the yard late at night to court dolly and said that the two of them had run off together. so dolly for us was really the first image of what freedom looks like but also what those legacies of emancipation look like, right, of autonomy and self-control and self determination, but interestingly also of a certain kind of post reconstruction nostalgia on the part of former slave holders. the reason the document and the
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photograph survive is that louis manigault built a tremendous scrapbook, right, to the -- what in his mind were the glory days of slavery in which he pasted the bills of sale, the advertisements for auctions where he purchased people, the receipts for the money he paid to buy people and he included this, right, and he writes this sort of heartfelt lament that he never saw her again. which raised some questions about, again, why he had her photograph made in the first place. one of the things we found out that we had not known before doing this research was some slave holders had photographs made of the enslaved people they owned to present a positive defense of slavery. to present slavery as a benign institution. to present themselves as benevolent masters who clothed and fed other human beings, if that's the mark of humanity. and then often there were images such as this one by
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thomas easterly where white families would pose with an enslaved woman usually. we've seen some poses with enslaved boys, not so many with men. as a way of showing off your wealth and status and prestige and presenting the enslaved person as a favorite pet or valuable object. we suspect that if the photograph of dolly was not one of perhaps a love interest for manigault, that he wanted a photograph of a woman he desired, we suspect it was a photograph more like this one, where dolly was holding a manigault baby on her lap. you look at the timing of her skate and the timing of the children and there would've been an older infant in the household at this time. so it's entirely possible, and that would explain then -- excuse me while i go back. come on. why the photograph is cropped and why you can see the bottom two thirds of that image, if
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she is holding the child. we spent a fair amount of time then after sort of establishing this foundation for ways in which african-americans were represented, the way in which that history of slavery was told by other people. to looking at how both african-americans and white americans involved in the anti-slavery movement represented their appeal, made their anti-slavery cause. so we have images like this, a lapel pin that has a white hand and black hand clasping. of course, we had to spend a fair amount of time with frederick douglass who wrote extensively about. read about the power for african americans to be able to present themselves as they saw themselves, right, as they experienced themselves, and each other. and so, for douglas, it was really important to be able to control his own image. douglas was terribly dismayed as many of you probably know.
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in the early editions of his narratives are published his terribly dismayed at the artist renderings of him that were included in those early additions because he thought the artist had represented him as a beast, and not as a dignified intellectual man. so, for douglas, posing for these portraits a very classical style, was away not only representing himself, but about making a larger political argument about african american humanity. for african americans, being able to create their own images and for free african americans, being able to purchase and acquire the images of prominent african americans in the antebellum era was terrifically important both politically and personally. so join her truth of course another well-known abolitionists in women's rights activists who like douglas and placed the power of the photograph to not only represent herself to present herself as a refined and
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dignified older women, not as a battered former slave so she curls her hand and you can't see her had that's been injured. but she also of course told her photograph to support herself, and2@a! e as you are doing the research for the book, one of the things that we came across for leathers to sojourner written by free black women to places like brooklyn, asking to purchase a copy of her photograph, and saying how tremendously important it was and how meaningful it was to be able to support the anti slavery cars on the wages of a domestic servant by purchasing this photograph. and in what letter, oh meant rights to truth and says i wish i had enough money to buy a copy picture for everyone in my family but i don't some going to buy one and i'm going to share it with everyone in my family. so that you know and that we know that we are bound together in this fight.
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we thought it was important to be photographed by african americans, so included a series of photographs by the photographer augustus washington, an african american man from new jersey. this, of course, was john brown. we wanted to spend some time back to this freedom question of thinking about what freedom looks like for free african americans. you heard in the previous top hat northern states eventually stripped free african americans of the state right to vote in their states so freedom eroded in many instances for free african americans and for some like mcgill pictured here, freedom looked like exile. he left the united states under duress under protest. i don't think he wanted to leave necessarily but he was part of a group that moved to liberia, believe he could never chief will freedom and full humanity in the country of his birth. so, after the passage of the
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fugitive slave, after 1850, freedom looked like exile, right, like another wave of dislocation. so, this is another photograph by augustus washington of sara mcgill russworm. her husband, of course, was john russworm, the african american who had started the first attack in american newspaper and united states. the mascot said if we do not speak for ourselves, who will speak for us. so, again, that sense of autonomy and self determination. one of our favorite pictures of the key what freedom looks like is that we know that, for many people, for many african americans, freedom looked like that itself liberation moment. so, this is an image from a conference protesting the fugitive slate law from the late summer of 1850. it might be hotter in here than it was there in august. this is a photograph of an event organized by douglas and jerry smith who's the top man in the center stand behind
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douglas. they anticipated 50 people would show up, over 20 people shut up. so, they moved outside to the orchards. so, the photograph is also historically important because it's one of the earliest examples about outdoor photography, right, we see the crowd in the foreground, and the panel speakers in the background. the photograph is also important to us because it showcases two women who had attempted to escape from slavery, mary and emily edmonton who had attempted to escape in 1948 from washington d.c.. they were captured, the father paul edmondson made his way from washington to brooklyn to meet with the reverend henry wart beach or to plead with him and say if these were your daughters, and the slave trading from price and breach was bragging them with taking mary and emily edmondson to north carolina to sell them as concubines, as fancy girls and paul edmondson makes his way to brooklyn and said how would you feel if they were your daughters that someone was bragging about selling as sex
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slaves. the edmondson sisters are deemed, there are purchased and given their freedom, which is really a concept that i think we all should stop and think about what that meant, right, to be giving your freedom as opposed to simply being able to possess yourself and possess your freedom. and the accounts of this convention in upstate new york describe how beautifully and powerfully the edmondson sister spoke to the crowd, and how is their speeches and songs that really move the crowd to tears in many cystitis. we thought it was important to include them to really highlight the role of everyday people and particularly everyday black women and that fight against slavery. the bulk of our study looked at the civil war at that moment of emancipation, and then the legacies of emancipation. so, i will go quickly through some images which i'm sure are
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familiar to you. we wanted to include this one because it shows an african american man driving the wagon of a civil war photographer. one of the things that we know is that photographers boomed as an industry during the civil war, and then after the civil war, the number of african american photographers proliferated as well. one of the things we suspect happened is that many african americans learned the trade, learned the skill and the art of photography by training on the ground quite literally with civil or photographers during the war. so, we have a number of portraits that are familiar to you. here's an image of price and breach of that slave trading firm. one of the things that we are stupid is how these photographs were received by northerners, how this idea of black freedom was represented visually, and then presented to a northern viewing audience. and for the most part, what we found, is that freedom, the idea of emancipation, was
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represented as a non event. right, that black people would remain at work on plantations. i will come back to this one in a. we will go with this one, then. but black man -- this is an interesting one, right? this is a picture made by new hampshire photographer of contraband's, those runway slaves, people who liberated themselves on the u.s. vermont and port royal in the sea islands. when you look at this photograph, thinking about it from the perspective of the formally enslaved men and boys on this, it's hard not to think about the mental passage, about these men cluster together on the deck of a ship, right? one of the things that we know from reading the letters of african americans who made transatlantic voyages during the antebellum period and after was that they really had the sense that these ocean voyages were steep with history, that
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they couldn't escape, right? that history that was really embedded in them. there is a companion image to this that i don't have, that shows the officers of the u.s. vermont, and you know, in that image, they are all wearing the uniforms, and they are standing, right, we are very dignified, there's distance between each man. and so it creates a very different image of who are the officers, and who are the crew at laborers, and it creates a very different image, then, of what free blackmon represent in the context of thinking about the future of the nation. this is a picture contraband yard that depicts women and children, and one of the things as we look at these photographs of contraband, which are often reproduced in history texts, is that we thought it was important to ask who is not pictured. who didn't make it to the camps? who was sold away? in the previous top, we saw those advertisements in the newspapers that people placed looking for a lost relatives that had been sold away. and, so in this moment of
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jubilee, in these early moments of emancipation of reconfiguring what the nation looks like, at the individual level, the family level, the community level for african americans that julia freedom was also tinge with the sense of loss. right? a family members who were gone. i should also point out that in the foreground of this image, if you can see, it is blurry because there are children playing. and so we have a number of images who have these blurry spots because children do not stand still prefectures. this is another image about how emancipation and the future of the nation, we're right, in the wake of black freedom, what it would look like. you will notice here that the americans will on this plantation are literally anchored with on a bit of cotton. so clearly it's a staged photograph, the photographer has a range this tarp on the ground, piled it with raw
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cotton and then former slaves are seated in the cotton. we again, a match the patient comes across officially as a non event we. black people remains on the presentation, remain anchored a tides that plantation labor. i'm sure you are all familiar with this image, right, and the power of so many of these images. one of the things that we sought to do with our research, though, was on the one hand to really recognize and respect the history that the image tells us, but to also offer some alternative thoughts. if you look at the harpers weekly in which this photograph is reproduced as an etching there is a companion piece. has anyone seen it? this is part of a tryptic. some people are nodding so you know what the tryptic is, it's how he comes into the camp in tatters, it's this picture of the scarred back and then what's the third picture? the third picture is him in his union uniform.
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that is not the image that circulates today in our popular culture. it's not the image of a dignified soldier, right? it's the image of a battered body. so there's something about the currency of these battered bodies that we thought was powerful but we also thought it was worth really taking a moment and stopping to ask why are the images of battered black bodies so compelling in ways that images of beautiful, refined, intellectual, dignified african-americans are not perceived as so compelling? so this is the image that circulates. we have a number of other familiar pictures, portraits, of slaves -- i'm sorry, of soldiers, some of whom were formerly enslaved, again, showcasing that idea of patriotism, dignity and manhood. we wanted to showcase the role of women in that fight for freedom. this is suzy king taylor.
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this is one of many people's favorites because it tells a different story and it will get me then to this question about legacies, it suggests the importance of families in african-american communities. right? that soldiers are fighting not just for themselves, not just for their country, but really quite literally in many cases for their families and for their communities. it's also a picture that tells us a lot about people's perceptions of their beauty and of their dignity. likewise this is a marriage portrait of two former slaves from maryland and this is their wedding portrait. so, again, that idea of the importance of marriage and of legalizing what could not be legal under the laws of slavery as a really critical mark, a very personal assertion of one's freedom. so thinking about the legacies of emancipation, not reconstruction politics so much but how the idea and the experience of emancipation
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stayed with americans, stayed with african-american communities and culture long after the moment of emancipation. one of the things that we wanted to do was move beyond the twin poles of reconstruction's promise, right, of this moment of political participation or this moment of the unfinished revolution, right, this is benjamin singleton who would lead the exodus out of the deep south to the midwest to places like kansas in the face of so much domestic violence and terrorism directed against former slaves and free african-americans. so we wanted to think about what were some of the other legacies. in some cases the legacies were continued military service for african-american men and in that ironic fight for freedom of opening the west as it were to u.s. settlement which necessarily then pitted african-americans against
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native americans in those wars in the west. right? and so freedom, again, being this incredibly complicated and contested idea in the u.s. context. this is a great one from richmond. it's a photograph of an emancipation day celebration. and i think we need to pause for a second and i will say again the location and you can think about why this is such a powerful image. it's an emancipation day celebration, 1888, in richmond, virginia. right? the heart of the confederacy. it's in richmond, virginia. it's three generations of one family. so generations that spanned those born into slavery and those born into freedom. if you look in the center towards the back there is a woman holding a baby. right? a young infant. so a child that was obviously born in 1888. right? this new generation of african-americans born into freedom. of course, you can see the banner with lincoln hanging
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from the center. so there's real recognition of lincoln, but also this recognition of black families, of black property ownership. they're standing in front of a store that they own. so people who had been property becoming property owners is one of the most important legacies of emancipation. this is an emancipation day celebration also in richmond, virginia. this time in 1905. in the previous talk we heard a lot about lynching and violence during and after reconstruction. so 1905, this period that's the height of lynching, of african-americans not just men but also women, right, this height of violence and terror directed specifically at those african-americans in particular who were politically active, politically engaged, economically successful, outspoken and here is the
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african-american community of richmond, right, having an emancipation day celebration in richmond in 1905. claiming that public space to celebrate not just their emancipation, but their right to take public space, to celebrate the end of slavery, right, their right to assert african-american political culture and social culture with dignity and pride in public. emancipation day celebrations as you know were common across the country. this is a picture from austin, texas, from 1900. again, i think really showcasing formerly enslaved people as beautiful and as dignified and as refined individuals. in this case also as landowners who purchased the land where the celebrations occurred. one of the things that we write about in this book and have continued to write about is thinking about how the
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experiences of slavery and emancipation, the experiences of reconstruction violence were really carried in people's bodies. so that as we look at these photographs as historical documents that one of the questions we kept coming back to in terms of thinking about what does freedom look like is who is not in the picture. who is not pictured? what is the loss that accompanied that moment of freedom? what was the loss of family members who were never found again? so this is a picture from 1916 of a woman named elizabeth berkley and a woman named saidie thompson. again, that sense of graceful refinement but that doesn't tell us about the conditions that brought them together, it doesn't tell us about how they carried their memories or their experiences in their bodies, but it does tell us how they went into 1916 into a reunion of former slaves.
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this was an event in washington, d.c. that was designed to bring together people who had been enslaved basically to celebrate their survival, right, in 1916. and newspapers up and down the east coast wrote about this event, right? wrote about how local members in washington, d.c. donated their cars so the elderly wouldn't have to walk but could drive to the events. so, again, this sense that that moment of emancipation continued through reconstruction and well after. right. that sense of people carrying those memories with them and wanting to really have those memories and that experience of enslavement and emancipation be part of the political culture in which they lived. so we have a number of images that, again, in the interest of time, because i know i'm standing between you and the ice cream at this point, these are later emancipation images,
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you can see the american flag here on this younger couple's horse. this is an image, again, from virginia of an older woman selling ice cream at emancipation celebration. these are the fisk jubilee singers. in all of these images one of the things that's tremendously important to notice is african-americans are crafting their own visual legacies of emancipation. the emphasis is really on refinement and dignity. it's not on their battered bodies, right? it's not on the abuse and dehumanization that they suffered but it's on their sense of self, their sense of themselves as achieving intellectuals and sophisticated individuals. >> this is mary mccloud and the children at her school. this is booker t. washington whose school included a photography department, right, well into the 20th century that trained people in the art of photography. so i want to end now with some reflections on how this story
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is told in a more modern period. this is an image by courtney elang and for librarians and archivists as well as historians, teachers and those of us interested in this history titles and naming are tremendously important. we know in the african-american community our names are terribly important, right? having that power to name yourself and name your children was tremendously important in marking people's freedom. this image is titled mississippi negris holding cotton. she was born a slave. so we are not given through the title, right, from library of congress any personal information about this woman. i want to jump ahead. here we go. likewise, this image comes from the archives in missouri and the title that the archives gave this image is portrait of a well dressed woman believed to be a house servant.
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so i'm going to pause for a second and ask you to look at the picture carefully and ask yourselves is this a woman who defined herself as somebody's servant? no. right? it so clearly is not. here is a woman that has gone to the studio, put on her best clothing, worn her best gold jewelry, picked this gauzy, romantic background to stand in front of. her sense of self bears no relation to the title that her image was given when it was archived, when it was saved. and i think for all of us who do research with sources, who go into the libraries, going into the archives that that's a question we need to ask ourselves, right? who has titled this document? who has named this person? so with that in mind i want to end with a couple of family portraits. this is a portrait from montana of a woman named emma smith.
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we know in montana african-american photographers, somewhat oddly, proliferated during the late 19th and early 20th century. here she is, right, a free woman posing with her own children. those are some more children. here we go. this is mrs. graves, a former slave posing with her free born grandchildren in macon, georgia, it's a studio portrait so she paid to have this picture made. i would remind you of that first picture of dolly and that idea of having to hold someone else's child on your lap and pose for the picture of your owner as sort of the human chair for their child and what that experience must have been like for somebody like dolly and then contrast it with what this experience of having her own portrait made, right, of mrs. graves, going to the photographer's studio with her grandchildren, her free born grandchildren. this woman who had survived slavery, right, to go to the
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studio and pause with her grandchildren on her lap and have that be the story that she told to her grandchildren and to her family about who she was and what freedom looked like for her, right, is a very different story than what some of those antebellum images and what some of those wartime images would tell us about what freedom and emancipation's legacies looked like. thank you. [applause] >> do we have time for questions? >> ask the questions quickly. there will probably still be some sprinkles left. >> we're good. >> so if you make your way to the microphone i'm happy to tell you whatever i can. >> hi. >> hi. >> jim paradise, abington, pennsylvania. >> nice to meet you. >> one of the photos that you showed brings back to mind a
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famous pair of photos of a young escaped slave, he shows up in one picture in tattered clothes and the other one he is in a crisp uniform and a drummer boy, jackson, i think, was his name. >> yes. >> can you explain the context of this, was this taken as a public relations effort? >> that's a good question. so like that picture that i showed you of gordon with the whip-scarred back, there is a sense among many sympathetic viewers that circulating these images is good pr, right, for the union cause. there's also a sense that it will arouse sympathy, right? that part of the thinking is this is the way of presenting former slaves as people, right, as human beings with their own histories, with their own lives lives, with their own identities, and i don't disagree with that. what i find troubling at a
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larger philosophical level -- and somebody recently said to me, right, if you think about sort of all of those, you know, red cross fundraising, it's not fair to put the red cross on the line here -- all this humanitarian fundraising photographs, it's always a poor child from africa with a fly on their eye, always a picture of a battered body, not a picture of a resilient person. i know that that pair that you're talking about and i think it's in that same vain of sort of showing the before and after of the potential. >> yes. sorry, we'll alternate here. paul, cleveland, ohio. i just wonder did anyone ever discover the fate of any of these people that were pictured in your photos? >> that's a good question. we looked for dolly strenuously and could not find her. i know a couple of genealogists who continue to suggest that they can find her and i'm willing to issue the challenge to anyone to find her. there's some people's fate that
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we know and we write a little about them and some who are just lost to us. that's what made the image of dolly so captivating, it really is haunting that the reason we know about her and her story of self-liberation is because her former master really couldn't let go. couldn't even let go of that picture, had to save it. >> hi, my name is robin, i'm from new york city. i was wondering a lot of these photos seem to reflect a portrait style, you were talking about refinement before and it's reflecting that sort of like the way that white people would almost take photographs before the war. so i was wondering if there was a development of a unique style among african-american photographers and also was there african-american photography used of art more than a sense of refinement or like familial portraits.
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>> that's a good question. thank you. certainly during that civil war era, right, the style of the photographs is very common, right, sort of ubiquitous. in part i think it represents both that sort of where ideas about art and culture and photography are in general at that time. i think there's also a very clear political undercurrent to some of that, right, as somebody like douglass would have said, right, about presenting yourself on par with the greatest leaders and the greatest thinkers. i think the period where you see a big sort of aesthetic shift doesn't come until the era of the harlem renaissance and people like xander g. and other photographs who are steeped in showcasing african-american culture in its all of its richness and diversity in the way that i think the political circumstances are so different in that civil war and post civil war moment.
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>> yes, leif fisher from oxford, ohio. the early photographs of the black ladies with white children. >> yeah. >> i think it's been pretty well documented that a lot of those ladies stayed with those families for a long time, some of them even after the war because they had no other option. are you suggesting that all of those photographs were staged and those women actually had no affection for those little kids? >> so that's a couple of different questions. let me try to pull this apart a little bit. certainly in terms of economic options we know that many former slaves did not have a wealth of opportunity. >> right. >> and resources ahead of them. we also know that until the 1960s domestic service was the number one occupation for african-american women in this country. the photographs certainly are staged and i think the different question to ask is would those women have preferred to be in a photograph
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with their own family members, right? if they had the opportunity to create a photograph. >> understood. >> would it have included their family members rather than, you know, in which case they wouldn't be presented as the servant, right, but as the member -- i think the question of affection is a different one, right, and i will say, you know, they are human beings, how could you not -- i mean -- >> well, i was just looking for data to support the fact that you feel that they were all staged. >> well, the portraits are staged because you have to get into the photographer's studio, you're going to choose your clothes, you're going to choose your backdrop, you're going to choose the composition of who is sitting where so they are staged in that sense. >> correct. >> and by including your slave or servant, right, you're creating a particular kind of image about how you want to present yourself. if these are images you are going to share with family and friends, right, you put on your
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best clothes, you don't put on your work pants. even though everybody knows you have work pants. right, you put on your best clothes because you're creating a certain kind of story about yourself and your family. >> okay. >> that includes your servants. >> thank you. >> hi. >> you mentioned with great power images from emancipation celebrations and united states c.t. troops. what are good archives to find those pictures, present, say, in classrooms or in public history places to counter the image of the poor slave or the wretched slave? >> thank you, that's a great question. the best resource is the library of congress. the library of congress has an amazing photo archive. you can download on to your own computer for free and use them in the classroom. there's some archives that will also then ask you to pay a
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$10,000 fee to reproduce them. that's a different story. >> my name is becca from ridge wood, new jersey. as a student of high school art history class i was taught to interpret photos in their context but as a high school student modern photography is really nothing like 19th century photography. i was just wondering if in making this book did you develop a sort of eye for the portraits of the period? is there a difference? how does one kind of acquire that taste? it's a very esoteric question. >> there is a lot of terrific scholarships on photographic -- the culture of photography and the norms and context. why people pose certain ways in those studio portraits in that mid 19th century moment. for douglass, that picture of douglass, he's looking off to the side because he's posing as a classical statesman, you don't stare at the camera and
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smile like we do now. it's a totally different context, totally different culture, totally different meanings about what that image meanings. thank you so much. >> hi i'm lee from ohio. and before what you were saying about photographing been staged, there was an equipment limitation in those days that we don't have now. you can't move, you have to sit straight and nothing else is going to move. so so. that's why there's all those blurry patches. because the children all those emancipation celebrations is always a blur at the front of the picture. the picture don't stick the children don't standstill. >> my kids don't stand still. >> guys are calling us. everybody can get to the ice cream quickly. you talked about -- booker t
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washingrton forces on photography. martin luther king also recognized the importance of getting things on film. we should talk quickly about the importance of that developing. >> well, -- -- not documentation, but as self representation was strictly important through the civil rights movement and then the images not unlike that scarred back >> picture, imalleges of dogs from the written text. thank you. (applause)
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