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After the Civil War, African Americans embraced photography for documenting their new identities, communities and everyday daily experiences. From studio portraits to personal photography, this cheap technology allowed them to create their own public persona for themselves. Below are some examples of cartes de visites, cabinet photographs and RPPCs (real photo postcards) of the varied uses drawn from the author's personal collection.
Representing one of Reconstruction's greatest legacy, education and classroom activities served as powerful symbols of emancipation and racial progress from slavery. Photographers and engravers regularly documented African American scholars, educators, buildings and activities in the schoolrooms and from the halls of colleges and universities. Below are some examples drawn primarily from the author's personal collection.
Work and Leisure
Photography also documented labor and leisure practices. Sometimes these images featured African Americans as props for white audiences and their expectations of labor, fitness for citizenship, and other racial understandings. In other instances, African Americans produced counter-images of black life and community values through documented parades, organizations, and other communal activities. Below are some examples drawn from the author's personal collection.