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Back in the mid-19th Century when photography was on the rise people would take photos of themselves in effort to establish their identity. The calling card became a big idea, as wealthy and affluent types would collect them as a status symbol and devise a social network through their collections. Photographic technology was fast and inexpensive, making it an affordable mode of reproduction for most classes and people. This technology became extremely important in African-American history, both before and after the Emancipation Proclamation passed in 1863. For the first time African-Americans could represent themselves the way that they wanted to be represented, which was crucial at this turning point in developing the Black identity. “A scruffy African-American family stands outside their run-down home while a dapper young man sits up straight in a waistcoat and suit: These are the never-before-seen faces of slavery and Emancipation, revealing families’ lives before and after they were freed. The images themselves played a key part in allowing the men, women and children freedom – being distributed through the northern states as propaganda during the push for abolition, and employed by former slaves to showcase their new images. More than 150 of the photographs feature in a new book,  Envisioning Emancipation , which has been published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 on January 1. Most of the images, which reveal what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era, were taken between the 1850s and the 1930s. They have been collated by Dr. Deborah Willis, a professor at the department of photography and imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and Dr. Barbara Krauthamer, an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.” For the rest of the story click here .

Freedom For Black People Through Photography

Black family historyBack in the mid-19th Century when photography was on the rise people would take photos of themselves in effort to establish their identity. The calling card became a big idea, as wealthy and affluent types would collect them as a status symbol and devise a social network through their collections. Photographic technology was fast and inexpensive, making it an affordable mode of reproduction for most classes and people. This technology became extremely important in African-American history, both before and after the Emancipation Proclamation passed in 1863. For the first time African-Americans could represent themselves the way that they wanted to be represented, which was crucial at this turning point in developing the Black identity.

“A scruffy African-American family stands outside their run-down home while a dapper young man sits up straight in a waistcoat and suit: These are the never-before-seen faces of slavery and Emancipation, revealing families’ lives before and after they were freed.

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  1. I have seen this beautiful photo so many times and I always wanted to know who is this family and whatever happened to them.

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