Images of African Americans from the 19th Century

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Description: An image database of hundreds of drawings, etchings, paintings, and photographs accompanied by textual descriptions. Images are browsable by categories or can be searched by keywords. These artists, engravers and photographers managed to capture and preserve for posterity a variety of images of African Americans throughout the 19th century. Some of these image makers were white Americans from the north and south. Others were European travelers. Still others, especially after the Civil War, were African Americans. The pictures they left range from the stereotypical to the naturalistic. In addition to recording the physical characteristics of their African-American subjects, they document the social, political and cultural life worlds of African-American people from slavery to various stages of quasi freedom. There are scenes of enslaved Africans on plantations and in rural and urban settings. The tumultuous period of transition from slavery to freedom during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras is well documented. Some pictures capture the uniqueness and subtleties of African-American group celebrations, cultural rituals and individual and group aesthetic choices. They also record the process of social, political and institutional development during this pivotal century in African-American history. This is the first of a series of pictorial databases that will be mounted on this site as part of the "Digital Schomburg." Others will be added of 19th-century continental Africans and African peoples in Central and South America and the Caribbean. These image databases are meant to complement and supplement the full text databases of writings by people of African descent which also are a part of the "Digital Schomburg," an electronic reference and research resource on African, African American and African Diasporan history and culture from the Schomburg Center.

Full text: yes
Access:  UNC-CH campus. Students, faculty, and staff or AHEC users affiliated with UNC-CH with an AHEC Digital Library account may access from off-campus.  (instructions)
Medium:  web
Coverage:  19th century
Language:  English