A scruffy African-American family stands outside their run-down home while a dapper young man sits up straight in a waistcoat and suit. These are the never-before-seen faces of slavery and Emancipation, revealing families’ lives before and after they were freed.
The images themselves played a key part in allowing the men, women and children freedom – being distributed through the northern states as propaganda during the push for abolition, and employed by former slaves to showcase their new images.
More than 150 of the photographs feature in a new book, Envisioning Emancipation, which has been published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 on January 1. Most of the images, which reveal what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era, were taken between the 1850s and the 1930s.
They have been collated by Dr. Deborah Willis, a professor at the department of…
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