Family Life, Child Care, Schools

  • Black Nursemaid, New Orleans, 1873-74

    Describing New Orleans, the author reports the negro nurses stroll on the sidewalks, chattering in quaint French to the little children of their former masters--now their 'employers' (p.30). Original sketch made by J. Wells Chamney who accompanied the author during 1873 and the spring and summer of 1874. Although relating to the post-emancipation period, the scene evokes the later ante-bellum years.
  • Jumping the Broom, Virginia, early 1840s

    Captioned, The Marriage, this engraving illustrates a passage from an anti-slavery novel by a Congregationalist author. A native of Connecticut, Pearson had worked as a governess for about a year, 1841-1842, on a slave plantation, Mt. Airy, in Virginia. This experience very much informed her later abolitionist views. In the scene illustrated here, the white mistress is compelling her enslaved maid, Mina, to marry in a manner that Mina did not recognize as a proper wedding. The mistress exclaims that if Mina had been willing and obedient she would have made you a pretty wedding in the parlor, and would have called the clergyman in (pp. 169-170). For details on the author, see Catherine E. Saunders, Emily Clemens Pearson, 1818-1900, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 29 (2012). A major study of slavery at Mt. Airy was produced by Richard Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Harvard University Press, 2014).
  • Woman Carrying a Child, Trinidad, 1836

    Caption, Negro mode of nursing. Shows fully attired woman with necklace and head tie, carrying a small child and a calabash container; thatched-roof houses in the background. Bridgens writes: The manner of carrying their children astride on the hip . . . is peculiar to the Negress . . . .The female [shown in this illustration] is in the usual dress worn by the Negress in the occupations of the field. It consists of a chemise of cotton, confined by a girdle; sometimes, of a vest down to the waist, and a loose petticoat from thence to the knees. The neck is covered with several rows of coral and glass beads, and the ears adorned with immense earrings. The head is bound round with a madras handkerchief . . . . The usual form of Negro hut is given in the background. The walls, consisting of a kind of wicker-work, covered with a thick coating of mud . . . . The roof is thatched with . . . 'trash,' that is the dead leaves of the cane. The woman is holding a tootoo, one of the numerous vessels formed by the Negroes for domestic purposes from the shell which covers the fruit of the calabash tree. A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Mother Carrying Her Child, Brazil, 1860s

    Caption, Negress Carrying her Young; child is carried African-style, on her back. HW provides no information on this picture, but for its possible source see image reference HW0033.
  • Slave Family, U.S. South, 1860s

    Caption, contrabands coming into camp in consequence of the proclamation. Many African Americans left the South following the Emancipation Proclamation. Fugitive slaves from the South who escaped to Union lines were called contraband, that is, confiscated enemy property. This family was quite unusual in that it was able to stay together; rather than stay on the farm, the family chose to throw themselves at the mercy of the Yankees.
  • School for Emancipated Slave Children, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1866

    Caption, Primary School for Freedmen, in charge of Mrs. Green, at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Illustration accompanies an article describing the racial atmosphere of Mississippi as not being conducive to the learning environment of blacks. The teacher, Mrs. Green, is one of a few whites who believes in the education of Negroes, but other whites in the community are suspicous of this new situation.
  • School for Emancipated Slave Children, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1860s

    Caption, Noon at the Primary School for Freedmen, Vicksburg, Mississippi; schoolyard with children and white teachers. Accompanying article (p. 398) describes the school and its pupils.
  • African Slave Family, Surinam, 1770s

    Caption, Family of Negro Slaves from Loango. The man is carrying a basket of small fish and a net on his head; his pregnant wife carries a basket of fruit with her infant on her back, while spinning cotton and smoking a tobacco pipe. The man is branded just below his right shoulder with the initials J.G.S., i.e., John Gabriel Stedman. This and other engravings are found in the autobiographical narrative of Stedman, a young Dutchman who joined a military force against rebellions of the enslaved in the Dutch colony. The engravings are based on Stedman's own drawings and were done by professional engravers. For the definitive modern edition of the original 1790 Stedman manuscript, which includes this and other illustrations, see Richard and Sally Price, eds. Narrative of a five years expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).
  • Marriage Ceremony of Former Slaves, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1866

    Caption, Marriage of a Colored Soldier at Vicksburg by Chaplain Warren of the Freedman Bureau; groom is in the uniform of the Union Army. Author comments that the bride was 13 yrs. old.
  • Black Family, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862

    The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress has three copies of the negative to this photograph by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, the Civil War photographer. The best of the three is shown here( LC-B8171-152-A), and is titled by the LOC as five generations on Smith's plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina. The other two negatives (LC-B811-152) are titled Beaufort, South Carolina. Negro family representing several generations. All born on the plantation of J.J. Smith, Beaufort, S.C. Sullivan visited Smith's plantation in 1862 and made several photographs of its enslaved population. In general, however, O'Sullivan left no records of his experiences and photographs, and the only identifiers are to be found on the notes or captions he scribbled on his negatives. For details on O'Sullivan and his photographs, see James Horan, Timothy O'Sullivan: America's Forgotten Photographer (New York, 1966) and Joel Snyder, American Frontiers: The Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan (New York, 1981).
  • Broomstick Wedding, Virginia (?), 1840s

    Caption, The Broomstick Wedding. Livermore writes that the bride and groom wore cast-off clothing once belonging to their master and mistress. The preacher was Uncle Aaron, one of the best servants. The bride and groom stood in the center of the room, holding hands. Two other slaves held the broom below the couple's knees. The couple jumped into the married state (Livermore, p. 256). In her preface, Livermore indicates she had lived in Virginia for 3 years, 55 years ago. In her autobiography (Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days; Boston, 1909), the former plantation slave Annie L. Burton recalled that in her childhood during the Civil War, if an enslaved man and woman wished to marry, a party would be arranged some Saturday night among the slaves. The marriage ceremony consisted of the pair jumping over a stick
  • Marriage Ceremony, Brazil, 1816-1831

    Captioned, Marriage de Negres d'une Maison Riche (marriage of blacks in a wealthy household), portrays an ornate wedding ceremony, with the bride and groom elaborately dressed and joined by bridegrooms and bridesmaids; a European (?) priest joins the couple. The engravings in this book were taken from drawings made by Debret during his residence in Brazil from 1816 to 1831. For watercolors by Debret of scenes in Brazil, some of which were incorporated into his Voyage Pittoresque, see Jean Baptiste Debret, Viagem Pitoresca e Historica ao Brasil (Editora Itatiaia Limitada, Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1989; a reprint of the 1954 Paris edition, edited by R. De Castro Maya).
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