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Enduring Images: Enslaved People and Photography in the Antebellum South

Enduring Images: Enslaved People and Photography in the Antebellum South Online

Presented by Matthew Fox-Amato, Assistant Professor of History, University of Idaho. 

From the 1840s to the end of the Civil War, some enslaved people in the United States purchased and used their own photographic portraits. This talk – drawn from Exposing Slavery (OUP) – asks how enslaved people shaped their identities and social ties through photography. Slave narratives, newspapers, and photographers’ records reveal that some enslaved people bought images from local artists, stowed images of sold family members in their cabins, and carried images of family on their persons. Considering enslaved people as active agents of early photography, this talk examines what their photographic practices meant, especially in relation to the violent disruptions of the domestic slave trade. It also reflects upon possibilities for writing the history of portraiture when the images are not available. Free—Registration required.

This program is a part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture and is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center.


This event is not being hosted by the SJR State Library. We are sharing news of this free event because it is related to the curriculum offered at the College and, therefore, may be of interest to our students, faculty, and staff.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
5:00pm - 6:00pm
Time Zone:
Eastern Time - US & Canada (change)
  All SJR State Students     Community Members     SJR State Employees  
  Observance/African American Heritage     Free event provided by an external agency  
This is an online event. Event URL: https://www.si.edu/events/online?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D150886880