Rogers on Researching the Zealy Dagguerreotypes of Slaves (2012)

In 2012, at Mirror of Race, Molly Rogers reflected on the Jacques Zealy daguerreotypes of South Carolina slaves (now held by Harvard University).

In the sum­mer of 1976, employ­ees of Har­vard University’s Peabody Museum of Archae­ol­ogy and Eth­nol­ogy dis­cov­ered fif­teen daguerreo­types in the museum attic. The pho­tographs were made in 1850 and they depict five African men and two African Amer­i­can women, all of whom were slaves in or near Colum­bia, South Car­olina. The names of the peo­ple are known—the men are Jack, Jem, Fassena and Alfred, and the women Drana and Delia—as are a few details on the cir­cum­stances of their lives. The daguerreo­types are con­sid­ered to be the ear­li­est known pho­tographs of iden­ti­fi­able Amer­i­can slaves….

…As I exam­ined the pho­tographs, scru­ti­niz­ing Delia’s body with the aid of a mag­ni­fy­ing glass—seeking in her image evi­dence of mal­treat­ment, of the cir­cum­stances under which the image was made, and of her indi­vid­ual character—an unpleas­ant feel­ing came over me. Louis Agas­siz had com­mis­sioned Delia’s pho­tographs after phys­i­cally exam­in­ing her. The images were intended to serve as aides-memoire to this osten­si­bly sci­en­tific exam­i­na­tion and also as evi­dence of his find­ings, which he could show to other peo­ple. The pho­tographs were there­fore dou­bly linked to Delia’s vio­la­tion: they were both the cul­mi­na­tion of an inva­sive exam­i­na­tion and a sec­ond instance of this objec­ti­fy­ing scrutiny. And there I was, exam­in­ing Delia much as the sci­en­tist had done: she was exposed against her will and in her body I sought infor­ma­tion, facts, evi­dence. That the kind of the evi­dence I hoped to find dif­fered from that of the Swiss nat­u­ral­ist offered lit­tle con­so­la­tion. Ulti­mately, there was no avoid­ing the fact that I was regard­ing Delia as an object and doing so for my own gain…

Read the rest: Molly Rogers, “Fair Women Are Transformed into Negresses,” mirrorofrace.org 2012 January 18. http://mirrorofrace.org/fair-women/

Brunias? Buttons ft. Caribbean Free and Slave Life @ Cooper-Hewitt

Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog (Archived)

Collected in a 2013 post by Sarah D. Coffin, these buttons were posted on the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt blog some time ago. But material cultures of slavery never get old.

Some of her conclusions have been challenged in the comments (the author appears to confuse 18th century Dominica with Saint-Domingue), but the images appear to be renderings in the style of Bruinas or Brunias originals of figures devariascolores (black, gradations of mixed-race, and white) in 18th century dress.

The figure in the blue dress on this button, for example…

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BOOK: Camp on Everyday Resistance in the U.S. South

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Stephanie M. H. Camp. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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Stephanie M. H. Camp (1967-2014)

University of Washington history professor Stephanie M. H. Camp passed away on April 2nd. Camp was the author of Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2004, also profiled on #ADPhD here). Camp also edited, with Edward Baptist, New Studies in the History of Slavery (University of Georgia Press, 2006).

Selections from her obituary in The Seattle Times:

“She was a well-known feminist historian who wrote a groundbreaking book on enslaved women in the antebellum South, and a social-justice activist who dared to take controversial stands. But Stephanie Camp was also known for her love of popular culture and her sense of adventure and for hosting great parties.

The University of Washington history professor died April 2 of cancer at the age of 46.

Professor Camp’s book, “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South,” which is in its second printing, led to a new understanding of how enslaved women resisted their captivity in the 19th century. It was cited not only for the quality of its scholarship but also for the beauty of the writing.

The book “transformed the field of American social history,” said Chandan Reddy, an associate professor of English at the UW….”

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My OAH Tribute: Stephanie M. H. Camp & Deborah Gray White

On April 11, 2014, #ADPhD Founder Jessica Marie Johnson paid tribute to the late Stephanie M. H. Camp….

Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog (Archived)

Stephanie Camp1 Stephanie M. H. Camp

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Below is the full-text of the talk I gave at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting last week. The panel was titled “Expanding the Boundaries: Power and Voice in African American Women’s and Gender History.”A separate reflection on the panel itself is incoming.

My original remarks explored power and voice in histories of slavery and Afro-Atlantic women.

It quickly became a tribute to Deborah Gray White and the recently passed Stephanie M. H. Camp.

I edited the text below for the blog-as-media and easier reading. I used formatting to replicate speech patterns, added images and links where appropriate, and included sections I skipped last Friday for the sake of time. Overall, however, I stayed true to the text as shared that day.

You are welcome to reblog, cite, circulate at will. All I ask is you respect the terms of the

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