Thursday, June 24, 2010

Slave Children

A rare photo found in a North Carolina attic.
A haunting 150-year-old photo found in a North Carolina attic shows a young black child named John, barefoot and wearing ragged clothes, perched on a barrel next to another unidentified young boy.

Art historians believe it's an extremely rare Civil War-era photograph of children who were either slaves at the time or recently emancipated.

The photo, which may have been taken in the early 1860s, was a testament to a dark part of American history, said Will Stapp, a photographic historian and founding curator of the National Portrait Gallery's photographs department at the Smithsonian Institution.

"It's a very difficult and poignant piece of American history," he said. "What you are looking at when you look at this photo are two boys who were victims of that history."


Julygirl said...

I grew up in the South, and even up to the mid 20th Century the poor white children did not look any better than the black children in this photo. Children did not wear shoes except the rich, and possibly to church if one owned a pair. There was little to eat, no education and no electricity or running water in the rural areas, no matter what color one was.

elena maria vidal said...

That's a good point. I have some pictures of my white grandfather picking cotton in the early 1020's in Alabama. They went barefoot all the time and lived exactly as you describe.

Dymphna said...

On the other hand let's not sugar coat slavery.

elena maria vidal said...

Hardly. I think that picture speaks louder than a thousand words.

Julygirl said...

Having grown up in the south I have always maintained that it would have been better for the large land owners to hire poor local people rather than import slaves. In the long run it would have cost less, (in more ways than money). Buying and owning slaves was not a cheap proposition, besides being a barbaric practice. But there was money to be made in the slave trade, and that is the bottom line for many people no matter who suffers.

elena maria vidal said...

The idea that human beings are still being bought and sold in many parts of the world makes me ill.