Miscellaneous Occupations & Economic Activities

  • Gathering Firewood, Virginia, 1868

    Captioned Colored People Gathering Fire-wood -- A Winter Scene in Virginia, shows a group of men and women in winter dress, with child looking on. Although published in the post-emancipation period, this scene, sketched by W. L. Sheppard, could also serve for the later slave period.
  • Tobacco Warehouse, Richmond, Virginia, 1865

    Shows the interior of the Seabrook warehouse at a time when Virginia was the leading producer of tobacco in the U.S.; the warehouse had about 21 laborers, all black.
  • Fishing Canoe, Brazil, 1816

    Canoes are long and of just width sufficient to allow of two men sitting abreast. I have seen in one of them as many as sixteen men in two rows . . . these fellows are mostly dark-colored mulattoes and blacks (Koster, p. 175).
  • Transporting Tobacco to Market, near Richmond, Virginia, 1873-74

    Captioned, The old method of getting tobacco to market, a man with a whip is driving a mule and oxen team that is hauling a huge hogshead. The tobacco leaf is the most troublesome as well as the most remunerative staple which the Virginian planter can raise (p. 634). 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.
  • Announcing a Tobacco Sale, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1873-74

    A man is blowing a horn by which buyers are summoned to a tobacco sale (p. 560). 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.
  • Street Paving, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1850s

    Captioned, The Three-Man Beetle, the author describes how streets are paved in Rio: The paving-ram is the 'three-man beetle' of Shakespeare. A trio of slaves are called to their work by a rapid solo executed with a hammer upon an iron bar. The three seize the ram: oneóthe maestro, distinguished by a hatówails forth a ditty, which the others join in chorus, at the same time lifting the beetle from the ground and bringing it down with a heavy blow . . . (p. 87); the process is repeated again and again, accompanied by the characteristic call and response pattern. The same illustration appears in later editions of Kidder's work, e.g., 1866 (6th ed.), 1879 (9th ed.).
  • Carters Transporting Goods, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1850s

    Captioned, The Rio team (now abolished), this illustration shows a group of five stalwart Africans pulling and pushing a dray or low cart heavily loaded with goods that were recently unloaded from a ship. Formerly, the author writes, all this labor was performed by human hands, and scarcely a cart or a dray was used in the city, unless . . . it was drawn by Negroes. Carts and wagons propelled by horse-power are now quite common . . . (p. 29). The same illustration appears in later editions of this work, e.g., 1866 (6th ed.), 1879 (9th ed.).
  • Porters with Sugar Hogshead, Brazil, 1840s

    A group of eight men, carrying a large hogshead of sugar suspended from poles by ropes. Burdens are . . . more frequently carried upon the shoulders, since the principal exports . . . being sugar in cases, and cotton in bales, it is impossible that they should be borne on the head like bags of coffee. Immense numbers of tall, athletic negroes, are seen moving in pairs or gangs of four, six, or eight, with their loads suspended between them on heavy poles (Kidder, p. 20). A slightly modified version of this engraving, captioned porters of Bahia, is published and described in Kidder's, Brazil and the Brazilians (New York and Philadelphia, 1857), pp. 475-476; also later editions. The image in Kidder's volume is a slightly modified and reversed version of one that originally appeared in Debret's Voyage Pittoresque et Historique au Bresil (see image JCB_07385-3).
  • Washerwoman with Her Child, Brazil, 1840s

    Passing up [the river] banks you see scores of lavandeiras, or washerwomen, standing in the stream and beating their clothes upon the boulders of rock . . . . Many of these washerwomen go from the city early in the morning, carrying their huge bundles of soiled linen on their heads, and at evening return with them . . . groups of infant children are seen playing around [their] mothers while they work . . . most of them have been carried there on the backs of the heavily burdened slaves. Female slaves, of every occupation, may be seen carrying about their children in the manner represented by the [wood]cut (Kidder, p. 126).
  • Barber Shop, Richmond, Virginia, 1853

    Caption, A Barber's Shop at Richmond, Virginia. The accompanying article (p. 216) says nothing about this scene. The original eyewitness drawing was done by the English artist Eyre Crowe who visited Richmond for a few days in early March 1853. Crowe also published this engraving, titled, An American Barber, Richmond, Va, in his book With Thackeray in America (New York, 1893), p. 139; however, the scene is not described and it is unknown if the black barber was enslaved or free.
  • A Black Man and Indian Prostitute, Peru, 1600-1615

    Title of drawing, translated: Creolized blacks steal money from their masters and give it to Indian prostitutes; shows an African man, fully clothed with cap and shoes, giving money to a barefoot Indian woman. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was a native Andean from southern Peru who addressed his lengthy critique of Spanish colonial rule to King Philip III of Spain. It was written between 1600 and 1615, and is composed of 1,200 pages, including 398 full-page drawings seven of which show blacks or Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library (Copenhagen); a complete and searchable digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available on the Internet as The Guaman Poma Website. The title translations we use are taken from the website. The drawing is in Chapter 25, image 277, of the original manuscript. (See Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 [Stanford University Press, 1974], passim, for the historical context of this drawing.)
  • African Mule Driver, Peru, 1600-1615

    Title of drawing, translated: A Spanish traveler and his African muleteer on their journey to the royal inn. A Spaniard on his horse is followed by an African astride another horse (or mule); the African holds a whip and is presumably on the lead animal pulling a wagon or sorts. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was a native Andean from southern Peru who addressed his lengthy critique of Spanish colonial rule to King Philip III of Spain. It was written between 1600 and 1615, and is composed of 1,200 pages, including 398 full-page drawings seven of which show blacks or Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library (Copenhagen); a complete and searchable digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available on the Internet as The Guaman Poma Website. The title translations we use are taken from the website. The drawing is in Chapter 35, image 384, of the original manuscript. (See Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 [Stanford University Press, 1974], passim, for the historical context of this drawing.)
  • Water Carriers, Brazil, 1820s

    Caption, convicts carrying water at Rio de Janeiro; 3 men in chains with water buckets on their heads; guard carries a sword. Note, tobacco pipes.
  • Slaves Fishing, Pernambuco, Brazil, 1662

    Title: Praefecturae Paranambucae pars Meridionalis. Detail of a map of Pernambuco showing a group of slaves fishing with nets or seines; the activity of the man in the wooden tower is unclear.
  • Carters, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Scene at the port: a Bush Negro (un bosch-negre)or Maroon (right), and a port drayman (left), both with their carts. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Plantation Boat, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Each plantation along a river, the author writes, has a canoe which is used by the slaves, as well as ponts which are large flat boats covered with leaves used for work, for the transport of merchandise, etc. (p. 30). In this illustration, slaves are unloading goods, supervised by a European. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Artisans and Hairdresser, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Shows urban male clothing styles. In the left foreground three free black craftsman/artisans are in conversation. On the right a young hairdresser, a creole slave himself, is followed by another slave, a boy, who is carrying various items of his trade: the comb, pomade, and curling tongs (p.20). Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Milkmaid and Milk Sellers, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Milk and milk products, Benoit explains, are provided by elderly missies (usually free women of color and former mistresses of white men) who own cows. These women then have their milk peddled or hawked by their own slaves, young black or creole women (p. 37). Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Shoemakers, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

    A shoemaker is measuring a free black man for a pair of shoes (right); the man on left, a slave (presumably the shoemaker's assistant), is making shoes. According to Benoit only free people of color have the right to wear shoes (p. 21). In the center, an elderly woman spins cotton using a spindle. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Shopkeeper and Tailor, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

    The shop of a vette-warier or retailer (left) who is selling goods (beads) to several Amerindians. A tailor's shop is on the right; a man (slave or free?) is being measured for clothing. The vette-warier, Benoit writes, are usually owned by Jewish merchants, but the tailor shops are sometimes held by slaves who have slaves working for them. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • A Street Cleaner, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

    A man with a donkey cart. The author notes that this person is a government-owned slave who is responsible for keeping the streets clean; a woman and child are in the background. Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.
  • Flower Seller, Jamaica, 1837

    Captioned Lovey, Belisario's detailed account notes Lovey was born in the Congo, where he was called Kangga, but in 1803 he was baptized by a Catholic priest in Jamaica and called Louis; however, for reasons only known to himself, he has . . . for several years assumed the appellation of Lovey. Characterizing Lovey as a shrewd, intelligent, kind-hearted, and industrious fellow, Belisario describes him as a well-known seller of flowers in the Kingston area for the past 30 years. The flowers are grown in his master's garden and as a way of increasing his own income, Lovey nightly dances two wooden puppets [shown in the lithograph], as he calls Captain and Mrs. Jones, and accepts tips from his audiences; the performances are accompanied with songs of his own composition, a few of which Belisario describes in the written descriptions accompanying his lithographs. For background on the artist, see Belisario01.
  • Chimney Sweeper, Jamaica, 1838

    Captioned, Chimneysweeper, this illustration shows a man in tattered clothes, carrying several brooms and smoking a pipe. Acknowledging that chimney sweepers as exist in England are unknown in the colonies, Belisario depicts the sweeper who works in certain Kingston houses which have the typical kitchen-chimney with its covered top, as a protection to the fire during the heavy falls of rain. Noting that the preferred wood used in kitchens is the cashew, the inhabitants of Kingston are by law obliged to have their chimneys frequently swept, a precaution highly requisite in a city where the houses are shingled. For background on the artist, see Belisario01.
  • Gold Mining, Brazil, 1850s

    Caption, Gold works of Itacolumi, Brazil--Gold Washing. To the left a party of slaves is catching the gold dust by immersing fleeces in the running water; on the right, two other slaves are beating out the dust from a fleece into a large wooden dish placed on the ground to receive it; behind them a European is weighing the gold dust in scales, and men and women are seen bringing down pieces of quartz containing gold to be broken up by others (p. 208). A somewhat different version of this image was published in the French publication Magasin Pittoresque (1841, p. 161) with the caption Lavage de l'or, au Bresil; this image, in turn, according to Magasin Pittoresque, was derived from Johann Moritz Rugendas, Voyage Pittoresque dans le Bresil (Paris, 1835).
  • Turpentine Making, North Carolina, 1855

    The yeoman with the axe has been engaged in tapping [one of] these pines to obtain the crude turpentine . . . . The Negro hands are busy in directing its flow into the bung-holes of the barrels rolled against the trees for this purpose. A Negro in the middle distance is making an incision in the bole of a pine tree with an axe . . . . the turpentine in the form of tar and pitch is exported in great quantities (p. 289).
Advanced search