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Found: The Oldest-Known Photograph of Enslaved African Americans With Cotton | Atlas Obscura

Found: The Oldest-Known Photograph of Enslaved African Americans With Cotton | Atlas Obscura

African American History, Black History, African American Art, Black Art, African American Photography, History, U.S. History, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D, Willoughby Avenue, Wriit, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,

The Image is simple and haunting.

Ten enslaved African-American people stand in front of a two-story, white clapboard building, some with baskets of cotton on top of their heads. A boy bows his head in the lower-left corner, his back to the camera. It’s a quarter-plate daguerreotype, a little larger than a deck of cards but brimming with details visible only when magnified: the individual leaves of the plants encircling a well, the woven wicker of the baskets. The antebellum photograph, believed to date back to the 1850s, is the oldest-known image of enslaved people with cotton, the commodity that they were forced to harvest.

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Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Isaiah T. Montgomery, African American Community, Black Community, African American Communities, Black Communities, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D, Willoughby Avenue, Wriit,

Recently, at Cowan’s American History auction, the Hall Family Foundation purchased the photograph for $324,500, on behalf of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. “I had never seen an image like this before,” says Jane Aspinall, the curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.


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