Category Archives:Slavery

Images of Slavery as Visual Evidence 2

For the most part, anti-slavery advocates defined the visual image of slavery before its abolition. Confident of the persuasive power of imagery, they created some of the most widely circulated images in the North Atlantic world before the invention of photography and other media we now associate with mass culture. Once again, it is misguided […]

Images of Slavery as Visual Evidence 1

This topic presents some intense pedagogical challenges. The subject matter is difficult and painful, if treated honestly. The imagery, when not downright misleading, rarely if ever offers straightforward evidence about the institution of slavery or its lived realities. Consider the often illustrated example of the Zealy daguerreotypes, photographs of partially nude South Carolina plantation slaves […]

Images of Slavery as Visual Evidence 4 “Artifacts of Slavery”

So far I have focused on depictions of slavery and the complications of using them as historical evidence. I’d like to close the forum by giving some consideration to artifacts rather than imagery, specifically to evidence in the architectural and archaeological records. Sometimes this evidence pops up in unexpected but revealing places. Take the case […]

Images of Slavery as Visual Evidence 3

Another issue to consider is how the visual image of slavery evolved once the institution had been abolished. Our culture’s understanding of slavery no doubt owes more to images, films, and monuments made after slavery than it does to historical documents from the pre-abolition period. One of the most iconic images comes from the so-called […]

Scene in Pleasant Valley, Maryland (October 1862)

Of the 100 U.S. Civil War images found in volumes one and two of Alexander Gardener’s Photographic Sketch Book (1866), one image depicts a black woman: Scene in Pleasant Valley, Maryland.  Why might this be a surprising fact? The answer lies in how you respond to the question: What caused the Civil War? When educators […]