Journey Stories Exhibit: “To Freedom: Tracing the Journeys of Enslaved African Americans”

Discussions about slavery continue to stir emotions. This exhibition examines the journeys experienced by enslaved Africans brought to the United States. From the journey into bondage, travels while enslaved, and escaping to freedom, voyages — forced and voluntary — shaped the way slavery evolved and, ultimately, ended in America.

via Journey Stories | Browse Exhibits.

Profhacker has a post on Omeka, the free and open-source software used to create this exhibit and others.  Read it here.

WEB: Levy on Failure of the Freedman’s Bank and the Gilded Age (LOC Webcast)

ACLS Mellon Fellow Jonathan Levy discusses the failure of the Freedman Savings and Trust Company at the Library of Congress:

In 1865, Congress chartered the non-profit “Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company,” a savings bank designed for a population of four million newly emancipated American slaves. By 1873, it had received a staggering $50,000,000 in deposits. But the banking house Jay Cooke & Co. was charged with investing the freedpeople’s savings, and when Jay Cooke & Co. failed during the panic of 1873, so did the Freedman’s Bank. Liberated from their former masters, the freedpeople had very suddenly come face to face with the frenzied finance of the Gilded Age.

View it here.

Mitchell: Portrait or Postcard? The Controversy over a “Rare” Photograph of Slave Children

For those of us who work with historical photographs (particularly images from the nineteenth century, when the medium was still in its infancy) there are few things more thrilling than stumbling on an image we didn’t know existed. But finding and then identifying historical photographs with any certainty, particularly the subjects in them, is tricky business. Retrieving the story behind the image—who took it, of whom, and why—can often be near impossible.

So I was surprised last week to see an AP story about a “rare” photograph of slave children. The accompanying image—purportedly of two boys, either enslaved or just recently freed, from North Carolina taken in the 1860s dressed in ragged clothes, seated on a wooden barrel, posed for the camera—intrigued me for several reasons. For one, my own reading of the image was quite different from what was described in the wire article and subsequent reports (recent sleuthing by collectors supports my suspicions, as I’ll explain). Second, the eagerness to accept the authenticity of this image as a reflection of daily life in the South in this era is based on, at best, a shallow reading of the history of black children in the photography of this period. Finally, the shock the image of “slave children” seemed to give reporters and readers, and even some experts, makes it clear that the picture of antebellum slavery most people hold in their heads is an outdated one. If they imagine Southern plantations were sustained largely by the sweat and blood by enslaved adults, the work of recent historians has brought another view to light, one in which young people made up the majority of the enslaved…

Read the rest at the History News Network: Portrait or Postcard? The Controversy over a “Rare” Photograph of Slave Children.

Conservator Helps Salvage Haiti’s Cultural Material

“ANNAPOLIS, Md. AP — It is slow, deliberate, frustrating, yet fulfilling work trying to preserve a peoples culture.Vicki Lee, senior conservator at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, already has made two trips with teams of experts trying to mend Haitis cultural heritage following the devastating January earthquake, and is itching to return.

“It’s so sad,” she said in an interview at her office off Rowe Boulevard after returning from the stricken island nation about two weeks ago. “There is so much work to do. We need thousands more people to do it.”

On the other hand, the Chesapeake Beach resident and her colleagues — who have made trips to Haiti under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute for Conservation‘s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) — see cause for hope.

“I think the chances for recovery are quite good, but it will take a lot of time,” said Hugh Shockey, an object conservator at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum who worked on the same team as Lee.

“To be quite honest, what gives me the most amount of hope is that the Haitians were recovering materials from the rubble rather than just throwing them out,” Mr. Shockey said. “They saved what they could. If I am going to put the pieces back together, I have to have the pieces.”

He said it is evident the Haitian people clearly value their cultural material.

“It could have all been scooped up by a bulldozer and sent on a truck to be dumped,” Mr. Shockey said….”

Read the rest at the  Washington Times.

McGill Tours Slave Cabins to Preserve History –

“Joseph McGill spent Saturday night in a place where slaves slept – in a cabin at Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown.

As a preservationist, his intent is to bring attention to the endangered structures.

“African-Americans have lost a lot of the buildings that can help interpret their stories,” McGill said. “This is a great place to start in helping to save those buildings.”

He also plans to use his tour in the coming months to speak about the realities that led to the Civil War. He has already had sleepovers at four other slave cabins throughout the state, with another planned for next month on Morris Street in Anderson, “the largest slave alley left in Upstate South Carolina.”

“This is important now because we are about to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War,” said McGill, a program officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “I plan to develop a lecture about my experience in the cabins and hopefully convince some of the naysayers that slavery played a vital role in the cause of the Civil War…”

Read the rest at