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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  August 13, 2016 6:00pm-6:51pm EDT

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history. >> coming up >> coming up next, barbara krauthamer talks about using photography to chart american slavery. she discusses the legacy of emancipation and explains how freed african-americans used photography for a means of independence and self-expression. in addition, she goes over the change in depictions of african-americans through photography and its relationship to the perception of african-americans in the postwar united states. her talk is about 50 minutes. >> good evening, i'm peter carmichael. i'm the director of the civil war institute. it's my pleasure to introduce barbara krauthamer. she's an associate professor of history at the university of massachusetts at amherst where she teachings courses on u.s. history, slavery, emancipation
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and native american history. her first book, which i have in front of me, "black slaves: ind yanian masters, slavery, emancipation and citizenship in the native american stuff" published by the university of north carolina press. this book details the untold story of the enslavement of -- of enslavement by indians in the 18th and 19th centuries. barbara has also co-authored a photo graphic history of slavery, emancipation and freedom, published in 2013, published by temple university press, and it is also for sale in our book store. tonight she will be speaking about her recent work and the talk is entitled "envisioning emancipation, blank black americans and the end of
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slavery." please welcome barbara. [applause] ms. krauthamer: hello. good evening. thank you for staying this late into the night. thank you for staying awake. thank you, peter, for the invitation and the introduction. and, alison, who has made sure that everything happened seamlessly from massachusetts to gettysburg. tonight i want to talk to you about the book that i co-authored with deborah willis. deborah willis, if you don't know who she is, is the leading scholar on the history of african-american photo gravy, macarthur award winner, just a brilliant woman and a dear friend of mine. and she and i were colleagues for many years.
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over the years had many conversations about photographs of enslaved people that we came across in the course of doing other research projects. i would say to her, you know, you're the photography scholar. explain to me why i've never reard read anything about the history of slave rnd and emans situation. she said, you tell me. so for truly a decade she and i would sort of, you know, go out to lunch go out to dinner, have a drink and show each other these photographs and then one day we said, you know, there may shuler actually be a book project here -- there may actually be a book project here. the book turned out to be envisioning emancipation. our question in this project and in one that we're just starting to get to work on in the upcoming months was what did freedom look like? right? we know a lot about the legal history and the political history of the debates over slavery, of the civil war, and of reconstruction.
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but we wanted to really take this question to a visual perspective. and ask, how is freedom, emancipation represented and how did african-americans represent themselves? really the heart of our project was a history of african-americans through their own eyes. how they saw themselves and represented themselves. at the more scholarly level, we were curious about using photographs and seeing them. reading the visual text, as it were, as both artifact, right, relic of t of the the past, but also as historical sources on emancipation and its legacy. and obviously the most lasting and important legacy for our purpose this weekend is the history of reconstruction. so we were curious to see what we could do with these photographs to understand that history, how it was narrated and how it was preserved by african-americans and also how african-americans were
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represented in a visual telling of that history of emancipation and its legacy. so what i'm going to do tonight, right, so there's an illuminated coppy of the emancipation proclamation, but what i'll do tonight is talk at that -- is take you through some of the images that we discuss and write about in the book. there's some that i'll just how you quickly. as we were putting this book together we looked through thousands and thousands of images from archives both in the united states and abroad. and early on our editor said, you can include 75 images. and we thought, well, that's just never, ever going to work. because we came to the idea of about 250. they said, we can do 75. so we went back to our pile of 250 and we got it down maybe to 200, something like that. we went back to the editor and said, 75 is not going to work. and they said, ok, 100. and we said 200. we went back and forth. finally we got to the point where we just didn't tell them
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how many we submitted. we were hoping they wouldn't count and clearly no one counted too carefully because the book came out. some of the images i'll shoal you -- show you tonight are in the book and some are not. when we started and we were thinking about what does freedom look like, we saw it was important to think about what does slavery look like in the history of photography. most of the scholarship on the history of photography, especially in the u.s. context, argues that tote graphy, when it arrived in the united states from france in the late 1840's, early 1850's had, a really profound democraticizing effect on american culture. the technology became relatively affordable relatively quickly and that many americans, great and modest, could afford to have their pictures made. as we thought about it, we thought, this line of argument and interpretation didn't fit at all with what we were seeing in the photographs of enslaved people. and so we begin the book by thinking about slavery and photography and really arguing
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quite strenuously that the history of photography for african-americans was not one about this democratic expansion of american culture in the antebellum period, so we began with some of the more famous images that you've probably made in 1850, which is an interesting year that we'll get back to. of enslaved africans and their american-born children. so these were made in south carolina under the direction of a harvard scientist who wanted to try to document his theories of polygenesis, that there were separate orders of human beings and separate creations of separate species. he had a series of these made. you can see -- i don't have a laser pointer. but you can see on the left hand side of the screen there that there are these hand written labels. this one says jack, driver, guinea, plantation of b.f.
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taylor. from south carolina. so there are a number of pictures like that that show both african enslaved people and then there are american-born -- their american-born progeny. with the attempt of using photography to present a visual image of human difference and hierarchy. there are others that have women with their breasts exposed. many scholars have argued that this is really part of the scientific project and wasn't intended as sort of a important graphic endeavor and i would suggest that in fact the two are very closely entertained -- intertwined. forcing black women to strip and reveal their breasts for the camera was both part of this quote-unquote scientific endeavor. that in and of itself was very much based in ideas about black women's hypersexual assault, lack of morality, -- hypersexuality, lack of morality, lack of dignity and lack of respectability. this image is actually one that really got us thinking, we need to pull all these pictures
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together and doo a book. this is an image that's a wanted notice for a runaway slave. a woman named dolly. one of the first things that caught our attention, of course, was that there is a photograph attached to the top of this hand written in the. which automatically raised a number of questions for us of, why did this woman's master have her picture? what prompted him to have a photograph of this enslaved woman made? we still don't know the answer, though we have some theories. in the text of the notice, he announces that dolly has run away from the yard behind his house in augusta. it's important to note the date of dolly's escape. she escapes april 7, 1863. so after the emancipation proclamation. but clearly she's liberating herself. her master surmises, and do i love this, he describes her body and in this way and both his written words and his presentation of her photograph
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really conveys that power to own and control and look at and proclaim who she is. he says, she's shy and hesitates when spoken to, but that she has very nice teeth. he says that she must have been enticed away by a white man because she never changed owners and is a stranger to the city. so of course he tells this narrative where never changed owner. as if that would have been her choice. we know of course it would not have been her choice. but so her master, this very prominent south carolinaan, lewis manigold, creates this narrative of domestic harmony and bliss. when you delve into the manigolders, the overseer reports upon an investigation of dolly's disappearance and i should note, of the hundreds of slaves that lewis manigold owned, many of them, dozens of them, escaped over the years. both men and women.
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and of all of those who escaped, dolly was the only one who was never captured. she was the only one who was never returned to his possession. when his overseer interrogated the other enslaved people in the household, they told a very different story that did not involve a white man enticing her away, but they in fact told a story of a free black man who worked at a hotel across the street who had been coming around the yard late at night to court dolly. and said that the two of them had run off together. so dolly for us was really the first image of what freedom looks like. but also what those legacies of emancipation looked like. of autonomy and self-control and self-determination. but interestingly also of a certain kind of postreconstruction nostalgia on the part of former slave holders. the reason the document and the photograph survive is that lewis manigold built a remendous scrapbook to the
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what in his mind were the glory days of slavery in which he pasted the bills of sale, the advertisements for auctions where he purchased people. the receipts for the money he paid to buy people. and he included this. he writes this sort of heart-felt lament that he never saw her again. which raised some questions about, again, why he had her photograph made in the first place. one of the things we found out that we had not known before doing this research was that some slave holders had photographs made of the enslaved people they owned to present a positive defense of slavery. to present slavery as a benign institution. to present themselves as benevolent masters who clothed and fed other human beings, if that's the mark of humanity. and then often there were images such as this one by thomas easterly, where white families would pose with an
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enslaved woman usually. we've seen some poses with enslaved boys, not so many with men. as a way of showing off your wealth and status and prestige and presenting the enslaved person as a favorite pet or valuable object. we suspect that if the photograph of dolly was not one of perhaps a love interest for manigold, they're wanted a photograph of a woman that he desired, we suspect that it was probably a photograph more like this one, where dolly is holding a manigold baby on her lap. and we've looked at the timing of her escape and the timing of the birth of the manigold children and there would have been an older infant in the household at this time. so the entirely possible and that would explain then, excuse me while i go back, why the photograph is cropped. and why you can't see the bottom 2/3 of that image. if she is holding the child. we spent a fair amount of time then after sort of establishing
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this foundation for ways in which african-americans were represented. the way in which that history of slavery was told by other people. to looking at how both african-americans and white americans involved in the anti-slavery movement represented their appeal, made their anti-slavery cause, so we have images like this, a lapel pin, that has a white hand and a black hand clasping. of course we had to spend some time with -- a fair amount of time with frederick douglass who wrote extensively about photography. and about the power of self-representation. wrote about the power for s to be able to present themselves as they saw themselves, as they experienced themselves and each other. and so for douglas, then, it was really important to be able to control his own image. douglas was terribly displayed, as many of you probably know, when the early editions of his narratives were published at the artists' renderings of him.
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that were included in those early additions. because he felt that the artist had represented him as a beast and not as a dignified intellectual man. so for douglas, posing for these portraits in very classical style was a way of not only representing himself but about making a larger political argument about african-american humanity. for african-americans, being able to create their own images and for free african-americans, being able to purchase and acquire the images of prominent african-americans in the antebellum era was terrifically important both politically and personally. sojourner truth, of course, another well known abolitionist and woman rights activist, who like doug las, embraced the power of the photograph, to not only represent herself, right, to present herself as a refined and dignified older woman, not as a battered former slave, so
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she curls her hand. you can't see her hand that's been injured. but she also of course sold her photograph to support herself. and as we were doing the research for the book, one of the things we came across were letters to sojourner truth written by freed black women from places like brooklyn, asking to purchase a copy of her photograph, and saying how tremendously important it was and how meaningful it was to be able to support the anti-slavery cause on the wages of a domestic servant, by purchasing this photograph. and in one letter, a woman writes to truth and says, i wish i had enough money to buy a coppy of your picture for every woman in my family. but i don't. so i'm going to buy one and i'm going to share it with every woman in my family. so that you know and that we know that we're bound together in this fight. we thought it was very important to include photographs by african-americans, so we included a series of
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photographs by the photo graffer, augustus washington. an african-american man from new jersey, this of course is john brown. ed to spend some time back to this freedom question of thinking about what freedom looked like for free african-americans. you heard in the previous talk how northern states eventually stripped free african-americans of the state right to vote in their state. freedom eroded in many instances for free african-americans and for some, like this man pictured here, freedom looked like compile. mcgill left the united states -- exile. mcgill left the united states under duress, under protest, i don't think he wanted to leave necessarily, but he was part of a group that moved to liberia. believing that he could never achieve full freedom and full humanity in the country of his birth. so after the passage of the fugitive slave law, after 1850, freedom looked like exile. like another wave of
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dislocation. so this is another photograph by augustus washington of sara mcgill. her husband of course was john, the famous newspaperman who started the first african-american newspaper in the united states. the f-35 we do not speak for ourselves, -- if we do not speak for ourselves, who will speak for us. so, again, that sense of autonomy and self-determination . one of our favorite pictures of thinking what freedom looked like is that we know that for many people, for many african-americans, freedom looked like that self-liberation moment. this is an image from a conference protesting the fugitive slave law from the late summer of 1850. it might be hotter in here than it was there. in august. [laughter] this is a photograph of an event organized by douglas and jerrett smith, who is the tall man in the center standing behind douglas. they anticipated 50 people would show up, over 200 people showed up. so they moved outside to the
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orchards. so the photograph is also historically important because it's one of the early examples of outdoor photography. where you can see the crowd in the foreground and then the panel of speakers in the background. the photograph is also important to us because it showcases two women who had attempted to escape from slavery, mary and emily edmundson, had attempted to escape in 1848 from washington, d.c., they were captured, their father, paul, made his way from washington to brooklyn to meet with the reverend henry ward beacher to plead with him and say, you know, if these were your daughters, and the slave trading firm was bragging about taking mary and emily to north carolina to sell them as conch bines. as fancy girls. and paul makes his way to brooklyn and said, how would you feel if these were your daughters that someone was brag being selling as concubines? as sex slaves?
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the edmundson sisters are then, quote hundred unquote, redepeemed their -- quote-unquote, redeemed their purchase and given their freedom. which is a concept i think we all should stop and think about, what that meant. to be given your freedom. as opposed to simply being able to possess yourself and possess your freedom. and the accounts of this convention in upstate new york describe how beautifully and powerfully the edmundson sisters spoke to the crowd. and how it was their speeches and their songs that really moved the crowd to tears in many instances. we thought it was important to include them, to really highlight the role of everyday people and particularly everyday black women in that fight against slavery. the bulk of our study looked at the civil war and that moment of eman pation and then the leg -- emancipation and then the legacies. i'll go quickly through some of these images which i'm sure are familiar to you. we wanted to include this one because it shows an
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african-american man driving the wagon of the civil war photographier. one of the things we know is that -- photographer. one of the things we know is that photography boomed during civil war and after the civil war the number of african-american photo graffers proliferate -- photographers proliferated as well. many african-americans learned the skill and art and trade of photography by training on the ground, quite literally, with civil war photo graffers -- photographers during the war. we have a number of portraits that are familiar to you. there's an image of price and birch, that slave trading firm. one of the things that we were interested in as s how these photographs were received by northerners. how this idea of black freedom was represented visually and then presented to a northern viewing audience. for the most part, what we found is that freedom, the idea of emancipation, was represented as a nonevent. that black people would remain at work on plantations, i will
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come back to this one in a second. we'll go with this one then. that black men, this is an interesting one. this is a picture made by a new hampshire photographer. of runaway slaves, people who liberated themselves, on the u.s. vermont inport royal in the sea island. when you look at this photograph, thinking about it from the perspective of the formerly enslaved men and boys on this, it's hard not to think about the middle passage. about these men clustered together on the deck of a ship. one of the things that we know from reading the letters of african-americans who made transatlantic voyages during the antebellum period and after was that they really had this sense that these ocean voyages were steeped with history, that they couldn't escape. that history that was really embedded in them. there's a companion image to
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this that i don't have that shows the officers of the u.s. vermont. in that image they're all wearing their uniforms and they're standing. they're very dignified. there's distance between each man. and so it creates a very different image of who are the officers and who are the crew and laborer. and it creates a very different image then of what free black men represent in the context of thinking about the future of the nation. this is a picture of contraband yard that depicts women and children. one of the things, as we look at these photographs of contra bands, which are often reproduced in history texts, is we thought it's important to ask who is not pictured? who didn't make it to the camp? who was sold away? in the previous talk we saw those advertisements in the newspapers that people placed looking for lost relatives that had been sold away. so in this moment of jubilee in these early moments of emancipation, of recon figuring what the nation looks like, at
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the individual level, at the family level, at the community level, for african-americans, that jubilee of freedom was also tinged with a sense of loss. a family -- of family members who were gone. i should also point out that in the foreground of this image, if you can see it, is blurry because their children play -- there are children playing. we have a number of images that have these blurry spots because children don't stand still for the pictures. [laughter] this is another image about sort of how emancipation and the future of the nation, right, in the wake of black freedom, what it would look like. you'll notice here that the african-americans on this plantation are literally anchored on a bed of cotton. so the clearly a staged photograph. the photographer has arranged this tarp on the ground, piled it with raw cotton, and then former slaves are seated in the
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cotton. so, again, emancipation comes across visually as a nonevent. black people remain on the plantation, remain anchored and tied to that plantation labor. i'm sure you're all familiar with this image. and the power of so many of these images. one of the things that we sought to do with our research, though, was on the one hand, to really recognize and respect the history that the image tells us. but to also offer some alternative thoughts. if you look at the harper's weekly in which this photograph is reproduced as an etching, there's a companion piece. has anyone seen it? this is actually part of a triptic. some people are nodding. you know what it is. it's how he comes into the camp in tatters, it's this picture of the scarred back, and then what's the third picture? the third picture is him in his union uniform. that is not the image that circulates today. in our popular culture.
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it's not the image of a dignified soldier. it's the image of a battered body. and so there's something about the currency of these battered bodies that we thought was powerful, but we also thought it was worth really taking a moment and stopping to ask, why are the images of battered black bodies so compelling in ways that images of beautiful, refined african-americans are not perceived as compelling. this is the image that circulates. we have a number of other familiar pictures, portraits, of slaves -- i'm sorry, of soldiers, who were formerly enslaved. showcasing that idea of patriotism, dignity and manhood . we also again really wanted to show quace the role of women in -- showcase the role of women in that fight for freedom. this is susie king taylor. this is one of many people's
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favorites. because it tells a different story. it will get me then to this question about legacies. it suggests the importance of family. in african-american communities. that soldiers are fighting not just for themselves, not just for their country, but really quite literally in many cases for their families. and for their communities. it's also a picture that tells us a lot about people's perceptions of their buti and of their dignity -- beauty and their dignity. this is a wedding portrait. the importance of marriage and legalizing what could not be legal under the laws of slavery. as a really critical mark, a very personal assertion of one's freedom. thinking about the legacies of emancipation, not reconstruction politics so much, but how the idea and the experience of emancipation stayed with americans, stayed
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with african-american communities and culture long after the moment of emancipation. one of the things that we wanted to do was sort of move beyond the twin poles of reconstruction's promise, right, of this moment of political participation, or this moment of the unfinished revolution, this is benjamin singleton who would lead the exodus out of the deep south to the midwest, to places like kansas, in the face of so much domestic violence and terrorism directed against former slaves and free african-americans, so we wanted to think about what were some of the other legacies ? in some cases the legacies were continued military service for african-american men and in that ironic fight for freedom, of opening the west, as it were, to u.s. settlements, which necessarily then pitted african-americans against native americans in those wars in the west.
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freedom again, being this incredibly complicated and contested idea in the u.s. context. this is a great one from richmond. it's a photograph of an emancipation day celebration. i think we need to pause for a second and i will say again the location and you can think about why this is such a powerful image. it's an emancipation day celebration, 1888 in richmond, virginia. the heart of the confederacy. in richmond, virginia. the three generations of one family. generations that span those born into slavery and those born into freedom. if you look in the center, toward the back, there's a woman holding a baby. a young infant. so a child that was obviously born in 1888. this new generation of african-americans born into freedom. of course you can see the banner with lincoln hanging from the center. so there's real recognition of
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lincoln, but also this recognition of black families, of black property ownership. they're standing in front of a store that they own. so people who had been property , becoming property owners. one of the most important legacies of emancipation. this is emancipation day celebration, also in richmond, virginia. this time in 1905. in the previous talk, we heard a lot about lynching and violence during and after reconstruction. in 1905, this period that's the height of lynching of african-americans, not just men, but also women, right, this height of violence and terror directed specifically at those african-americans, in particular, who were politically active, politically engaged, economically successful, outspoken, and here is the african-american community of richmond, having
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an emancipation day celebration in richmond. in 1905. claiming that public space to celebrate not just their emancipation, but their right to take public space, to celebrate the end of slavery, their right to assert african-american political culture and social culture with dignity and pride in public. emancipation day celebrations as you know were common across the country. this is a picture from austin, texas, from 1900's. again, i think really showcasing formerly enslaved people as beautiful and as dignified and as refined individuals. in this case, also as lands owners who purchased the land where the celebrations occurred. one of the things that we write about in this book and have continued to write about is thinking about how the experiences of slavery and emancipation, the experiences
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of reconstruction violence, were really carried in people's bodies. as we look at these photographs as historical domente documents, one of the questions we kept coming back to in terms of thinking what does freedom look like is who's not in the picture. who's not pictured. what was the loss that accompanied that moment of freedom. what was the loss of family members who were never found again. so this is a picture from 1916, of a woman named elizabeth birkly and a woman named sadie thompson. that sense of graceful refinement. that doesn't tell us about the conditions that brought them together. it doesn't tell us about how they carried their memories or their experiences, but it tells us how they went into 1916, into a reunion of former slaves. this is this was an event in washington, d.c., that was designed to bring together people who had been enslaved
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basically to celebrate their survival. in 1916. newspapers up and down the east coast wrote about this event. wrote about how local members in washington, d.c., donated their cars so the elderly wouldn't have to walk, but could drive to the event. again, this sense that that moment of emancipation continued through reconstruction and well after. that sense of people carrying those memories with them and wanting to really have those memories and that experience of enslavement and emancipation be part of the political culture in which they lived. so we have a number of images that, again, in the interest of time, because i know i'm standing between you and the ice cream at this point. [laughter] these are later emancipation images. you can see the american flag here on this younger couple's horse. this is an image, again, from virginia of an older woman
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selling ice cream at emancipation celebration. these are the jubilee singers. in all of these images one of the things that's tremendously important to notice is that as african-americans are crafting their own visual legacies of emancipation, the emphasis is really on refinement and dignity. it's not on their battered bodies. it's not on the abuse and dehumanization that they suffered, but it's on their sense of self. their sense of themselves as achieving intellectuals and sophisticated individuals. this is mary macleod and the children at her school. this of course is booker t. washington, whose school included a photography department. well into the 20th century. that trained people in the art of photography. so i want to end now with some reflecks on how this story is told in a more modern period. this of course is an image by
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dorothy lang. for librarians and archivists, as well as historians, teachers and those of us interested in this history, titles and naming are tremendously important. we know in the african-american community our names are terribly important. having that power to name yourself and name your children was tremendously important in marking people's freedom. this image is titled "mississippi negress holding cotton, she was born a slave." so we are not given through the title, right, from library of congress any personal information about this woman. i'm going to jump ahead here. here we go. like weis this image -- likewise this image comes from the archives in missouri and the title that the archives gaynor gave this image is "portrait of a well dressed woman believed to be a house servant," so i'm going to pause for a second. and ask you to look at the picture carefully. and ask yourself, is this a
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woman who defines herself as somebody's servant? no. it's so clearly not. here's a young woman who has gone to the studio, she's put on her best clothes, if you look at it closely, she's wearing some gold jewelry. she's picked this sort of romantic fuzzy, gausy background to stand in front of. her sense of self bears no relationship to the title that her image was given when it was archived. when it was saved. i think for all of us who do research with sources, who go into the libraries, go into the archives, that that's the question we need to ask ourselves. who has titled this document, who has named this person? with that in mind, i want to end with a couple of family portraits. this is a portrait from montana, of a woman named emma smith. we know in montana african-american photographers, somewhat oddly, proliferated
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during the late 19th and early 20th century. here she is. a free woman posing with her own children. some more children. here we go. this is ms. nim -- minerva grave. a former slave posing with her free grandchildren. she paid to have this picture made. i will remind you of that first picture we showed you of dolly and the idea of having to hold someone else's child. on your lap. and pose for the picture of your owner as sort of the human chair for their child. what that experience must have been like for somebody like dolly. and then contrast it with what this experience, of having her own portrait made, of mrs. graves going to the photographer's studio with her grandchildren, her free-born grandchildren, this woman who had survived slavery, to go to the studio and pause with her grandchildren on her lap. and have that be the story that
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she told to her grandchildren and to her family about who she was and what freedom looked like for her is a very different story than what some of those antebellum images and those war time images would tell us about what freedom and emancipation's legacies looked like. thank you. [applause] ask questions quickly. there will probably be some sprinkles left. if you make your way to the microphone, i'm happy to tell whaufer i can -- tell you hatever i can. questioner: hi. jim from pennsylvania. one of the photos that you showed bring back to mind a famous pair of photos of a young escaped slave, he shows
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up in one picture in tattered clothes and the other one he's uniform -- crisp uniform. can you explain the context of this? was this taken as a public relations effort? ms. krauthamer: that's a good question. so, like that picture that i showed you of gordon with the whip-scarred back, there's a sense among many sympathetic viewers that circulating these images is good p.r. for the union cause. there's also a sense that it will arouse sympathy. that part of the thinking is, this is the way of presenting former slaves as people. as human beings with their own histories, with their own lives, with their own identities. and i don't disagree with that. what i find sort of troubling at a larger sort of philosophical level is, and somebody recently said to me, if you think about sort of all
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of those red cross fundraising, it's not fair to put the red cross on the line here, all this humanitarian fundraising photograph, the always a poor child from africa with a fly on their eye. the always a picture of a battered body. it's not a picture of a resilient person. but so i think that -- i know that parity you're talking about. i think it's is that same vein of showing the before and after of that potential. questioner: paul from cleveland, ohio. i wondered, did anyone ever discover the fate of any of these people that were pictured in your photos? ms. krauthamer: that's a good question. we looked for dolly strenuously. and could not find her. i know a couple of geneologistses who continue to insist to me that they can find her and i'm willing to issue the challenge to anyone if they want to find her. there's some people whose face faith is known and we write a little bit -- whose fate is known and we write a little bit about them. there are some who are just
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lost to us as far as we know. if fact, that's what made the image of dolly so captivating. it was haunting. that the reason we know about her and about her story is of self-liberation is because her former master really couldn't let go. couldn't even let go of that picture. had to save it. questioner: hi. my name's matt, i'm from new york city. i was wondering, a lot of these photos seem to reflect a portrait style, the sort of -- you were talking about refinement before. reflecting that sort of -- the way that white people would almost take photographs before the war. i was wondering if there was a development of a unique style among african-american photographers and also were there african-american photography used as art as opposed to refinement? ms. krauthamer: that's a good question, thank you. certainly during that civil war era, the style of the
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photographs is very common, sort of ubiquitous. in part, i think it represents both that sort of where idea about art and culture and photography are in general at that time. i think there's also a very clear political undercurrent to some of that. somebody like douglas-- douglass would have said about the greatest leaders and thinkers. i think the period where you see a big sort of aesthetic shift doesn't come until the era of the harlem renaissance. and really with people like vander z. and other prominent after american photographers who really then are steeped in sort of showcasing african-american culture in all of its richness and diversity in way that i think the political circumstances are so different in that civil war and ostcivil war moment. questioner: leif from oxford,
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ohio. the early photographs of the black ladies with white children, i think it's been pretty well documented that a lot of those ladies stayed with those families for a long time. some of them even after the war, because they had no other option. are you suggesting that all of those photographs were staged and those women actually had no affection for those little kids? ms. krauthamer: that's a couple of different question. let me try to pull this apart a little bit. certainly in term of economic options, we know that many former slaves did not have a wealth of opportunity and resources ahead of them. we also know that until the 1960's domestic service was the number one occupation for african-american women in this country. the photographs certainly are staged. i think the different question to ask is, would those women have preferred to be in a photograph with their own family member? would they -- if they had the opportunity to create a
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photograph, would it have include their family members rather than -- in which case they wouldn't be presented as the servant, but as the member -- i think the question of afeck is a different one. i will say, they're human beings. w could you not -- i mean, questioner: i was just looking for da to to support -- data to support the fact that you think they're all staged. ms. krauthamer: the photographs are all staged. you have to go into the photographer studio. you have to choose your clothes and back drop and the composition of who is sitting where. so they're staged in that sense. and by including your slave or servant, you're creating a particular kind of image about how you want to present yourself. if these are images you're going to share with family and friends. you put on your best clothe. you don't put on your work
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pants. even though everybody knows you have work pants. you put on your best clothes. because you're creating a certain kind of story about yourself and your family that includes your servant. questioner: thank you. questioner: hi. you mentioned with great power images from emancipation celebrations and united states c.t. troops, where do you -- what are good archives to find those pictures? in classrooms or in public history places? to counter the image of the poor slave or the retched slave. ms. krauthamer: thank you. that's a great question. the best resource is library of congress. library of congress has an amazing photo archive, you can download onto your own computer for free and use them in the classroom. there's some archives that will also then ask you to pay a $10,000 fee to reproduce them. [laughter] that's a different story.
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questioner: hi. i'm from ridgewood, new jersey. i was a student of a high school art history class, i was taught to interpret photos if their con tech. but also as a high school student -- context. but as a high school student, modern photography is nothing like 19th century photography. did you develop a sort of eye for the portraits of the periods? is there a different? how does one acquire that taste? ms. krauthamer: there's a lot of terrific scholarship on photo graphic -- the culture of photography and the norms and con techses. so some -- context. why some people pose certain ways in that mid 19th century moment. for douglass, he's looking off to the side. he's not looking directly at the camera. because he's posing like a classical statesman. you don't stare at the camera and smile the way we all do now. when we pop out our phones. so it's a totally different
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context, totally different culture, totally different meaning about what that image was supposed to do. questioner: thank you so much. questioner: hi, i'm lee from ohio. just to sort of support what you were saying about photographs being staged, there was an equipment limitation in those days that we don't have now. you can't move. you got to sit straight. and nothing else is going to move, so i think that kind of goes along with what you were saying. ms. krauthamer: that's why there are all those blurry patches. because the children in all those emancipation day celebrations, there's always a blur at the front of the picture. because children don't stand still. questioner: my kids never stand still. exactly. ms. krauthamer: last one. sprinkles are calling us. >> quickly, you talked about frederick douse lag -- frederick douglass, recognizing the importance of photographs and booker t. washington offering courses on photography. martin luther king also recognized the importance of getting things on film. can you talk about the
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importance of that developing into the 20th century as film came along? ms. krauthamer: i think you answered your own question very nicely. i think that idea of representing yourself, not photography as documentation, but as self-representation, was, you know, terrifically important through the civil rights movement and then the images not unlike that scarred back picture, those images of dogs are really powerful. in a different way from the written text. thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> sunday night on q&a,
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cliffton rayfield, a documentary film instructor, talk about his students' award winning documentaries. some of which have been grand prize winners in our annual student cam competition. he teaches at a high school in ohio. >> i'm not the kind of teacher who will look at something that's not very good and just go, oh, that's nice, you did a really nice job with that. i'll say, what's not working? eventually every single one of my kids makes a better piece than they did in the beginning. every single one of them. and eventually the kids who do really, really well, they internalize all this stuff. so i know no longer have to say it's to them, their own brain is saying these things to them. >> sun night at 8:00 eastern on -span's q&a. >> up next on american history tv, rutgers university economics professor jason barr discusses his book "building the sky line: the birth and growth of manhattan
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skyscrapers." we hear about the economic history behind the skyscrapers and lower and midtown manhattan and learn why there's a gap in the iconic sky line. the skyscraper museum of new york city hosted this event. it's about an hour. >> first i would like to thank carroll very much and the skyscraper museum for the ini have tage to talk. mr. barr: grateful for the opportunity to discuss my research and the book itself. today, going to give -- i'm going to give one slide on the book itself. very quick overview. just talk about some of the ain topics and the key themes. one thing. could you keep me on time? perfect. the majority of the time we'll focus on one specific question, which is, why does the


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