Back in the mid-19th Century when photography was on the rise people would take photos of themselves in effort to establish their identity. The calling card became a big idea, as wealthy and affluent types would collect them as a status symbol and devise a social network through their collections. Photographic technology was fast and inexpensive, making it an affordable mode of reproduction for most classes and people. This technology became extremely important in African-American history, both before and after the Emancipation Proclamation passed in 1863. For the first time African-Americans could represent themselves the way that they wanted to be represented, which was crucial at this turning point in developing the Black identity.
“A scruffy African-American family stands outside their run-down home while a dapper young man sits up straight in a waistcoat and suit: These are the never-before-seen faces of slavery and Emancipation, revealing families’ lives before and after they were freed.