post at "Lens," a New York Times blog devoted to photography and visual journalism. It includes sixteen "images of emancipation" from a recent book by Deborah Wills and Barbara Krauthamer entitled Envisioning Emanciption: Black Americans and the End of Slavery (Temple, 2012). Here is a taste:
As Ms. Willis and Ms. Krauthamer note, freedom for African-Americans
was not instantly achieved with the implementation of the Emancipation
Proclamation in 1863; it evolved fitfully, over many decades. During
that time, it was photographs created largely by and for
African-Americans that helped an oppressed people to imagine their own
freedom. Prominent black leaders, including Frederick Douglass and
Harriet Tubman, routinely turned to the medium, much as Sojourner Truth
did, to further their abolitionist campaigns.
inexpensive imaging technology, coupled with a growing national network
of black-owned photo studios, permitted African-Americans of all
economic classes, even “the servant girl,” as Douglass observed, to
construct their own versions of themselves. This affirmative imagery
served to countermand destructive and pervasive stereotypes, steeling
African-Americans against the ruthless forces of intolerance while
simultaneously convincing white people of their shared humanity.
the end, “Envisioning Emancipation” recounts a dynamic history of black
self-possession and self-determination, one that challenges the abiding
myth of the crusade against slavery and segregation: that of passive
black victims who obtained freedom mostly through the benevolence and
generosity of their white saviors.