In Honor of Juneteenth, Three Images from my Collection

I own just a few early photographs of African-Americans, for they are scarce and much sought after. I present them with love.

18472494001_5f2b547cf6_o
A gelatin silver bromide print of a beautiful African-American woman wearing full mourning. Despite her loss, she was clearly a survivor. Circa 1900.
daga1IMG
Of this enchanting young Creole woman, I know only that she was from New Orleans, Louisiana, and her name was probably Jois. This was likely a wedding photo. Ambrotype, circa 1855.
21506079371_ed5484c3f4_h
Mrs. Della Powell, Post-Mortem Albumen Print, 1894, photographed by William Carroll, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Formerly in the collection of Ben Zigler and now in mine, this rare post-mortem image of an African-American woman, who may have begun her life as a slave, was published in the 2004 book “Mourning Jewelry and Art” by Maureen DeLorme. I’ll be writing more about Della soon. Stay tuned.

Ω

Mayhem, Mishaps, Murders, and Misdeeds

Whenever the modern world seems unprincipled and bleak, take comfort. It ran amok in the old days, too, as these Victorian news clippings attest.

img-15
York, Pennsylvania Gazette, Sunday, 5 December, 1897

“Looks Like Attempted Revenge”

“Hazelton, Pa., Dec. 4.—An attempt was made last night to blow up the residence of A. P. Platt, one of Sheriff Martin’s deputies. This morning, two sticks of dynamite, one of which was broken, were found on the steps of Mr. Platt’s residence. The explosive was carried to police headquarters and it was found that the piece which had been broken must have been thrown against the porch by someone. Had the dynamite exploded, the house would have been wrecked and Mr. Platt and family probably killed. There is no clue to the guilty parties.

“Mr. Platt is the manager of the A. Pardee & Company store in Hazelton, and is a prominent Hazletonian. He has offered a reward of $100 for the apprehension of the parties who placed the dynamite on the doorstep.”

victorian+ornaments+image+graphicsfairy2

img-16
Ottawa, Kansas Daily Republic, Monday, 4 October, 1886

“A Narrow Escape”

“Chicago, Oct. 2.—A number of very narrow escapes from death by fire occurred at No. 90 East Chicago avenue early this morning. The building is a two-story frame owned by John Johnson and occupied in the basement by Miss Julia Hogan as a restaurant; first floor as a saloon kept by Roose & Steuberg, and the second floor by John Johnson and family. Officer Moore saw the flames leaping from of the rear of the building, turned in the alarm and then ran to the scene to arouse the inmates. He rushed to Johnson’s rooms and seized two of the children, who were in a back room, and were nearly suffocated. In coming downstairs, he fell and injured his left hand and arm, but the children were not injured. Mrs. Johnson caught up the baby and escaped in her night dress, followed by her sister and husband. In Miss Hogan’s restaurant, in the basement, were sleeping Julia Hogan and Mary Esperson, Helen Larsel and Louise Norin. The last named, the cook, was aroused by the heat and smoke, which came from the kitchen. She called the proprietress, and they tried to gather some valuables, but the flames spread so rapidly that a retreat was necessary. Miss Hogan was compelled to run through the flames, and her arms were severely burned in attempting to save a dress, in the pocket of which was $56. The damage to the building was slight.”

victorian+ornaments+image+graphicsfairy2

Continue reading “Mayhem, Mishaps, Murders, and Misdeeds”

Easters Ago

As the Northern Hemisphere explodes with green life, let’s take a look back at rebirth celebrations of yesteryear.

bfbeb62789c5e88cae8e29f0528efdc1
A beautiful early Easter image, probably 1890s.
Easter_parade_Fifth_Avenue_1890
The 1898 5th Avenue Easter Parade, New York City, New York. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
3a46622r
Children at the 1898 White House Easter Egg Roll. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Continue reading “Easters Ago”

The McGrawville Experiment

In about 1849, a mother and child were photographed in a New York town where visionaries struggled to change the world.

music1IMG_0002
1/6th-plate daguerreotype from the Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

A long inscription is penciled inside the case of this daguerreotype: “The picture of Flora and her mother, taken when she was three years old at McGrawville, Cortland Co., NY.

IMG_9675
The penciled inscription inside the daguerreotype case.

“I’ll think of thee at eventide/ When shines the star of love/ When Earth is garnished like a bride/ and all is joy a-bove/ and when the moon’s pale genial face/ is shed or [sic] land & sea/ and throughs [sic] around her soft light/ t’is then I think of thee. EM

“Flora & I are in the parlor as I write this, talking of the war, etc. etc. Henry …?… is buried Thursday Oct. 30th, ’62.”

The sentimental verse is likely based on “Better Moments,” by poet Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867), printed in 7 July, 1827’s New-York Mirror and Ladies Literary Gazette, Volume IV, as well as and in the New Mirror’s Poems of Passion in 1843. Willis’s poem includes the lines: “I have been out at eventide/ Beneath a moonlit sky of spring/ When Earth was garnished like a bride/ And night had on her silver wing.” It is uncertain whether variants of Willis’s poem existed that included the stanza scriven in the case, or whether the writer “borrowed” a few lines of it for his or her own poetic creation.

Continue reading “The McGrawville Experiment”

On This Day for Mothers

“Mothers, I believe, intoxicate us. We idolize them and take them for granted. We hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. We sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological genesis. We can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.”—Megan Mayhew Bergman

4715860088_170bbac360_o
From left, my grandmother, Lillian Marie Fox; my great-grandmother, Rebecca Murdock Fox; and my great aunt, Rebecca Fox, posed for this tintype in about 1901. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.
11178332634_3e9d60169a_o
This tintype’s sitters were a beautiful turn-of-the-century mother and daughter who appear to be African-American. Courtesy Jack and Beverley Wilgus Collection.
5099229059_1a590a3bd5_o
An American mother sat outside with her children for this ambrotype taken on a clear day in about 1880. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.
3360043331_837fa3d3cd_o
An adoring, late-Victorian mother and delighted child were the subjects of this albumen print on cardboard. Photo Courtesy Price and Zimmer Collection.
15981569687_60f65482d1_k
An unknown lady tenderly holds her baby in this circa-1875 carte de visite by Hills & Saunders, Oxford, England. Courtesy James Morley Collection.

Ω


I wish all mothers a happy day of love and peace. For all you have done and will do, you are saluted.