African Americans in a rural setting

What it is:

Photo (approx. 5.5 x 3.75 inches) mounted on a cardboard frame/backing (approx. 6.25 x 4.75 inches).

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


This may not be the most artistic image in the world, and it’s not in the best condition, but I prize it because it’s one of the very few photos I have of black people (or, indeed, any non-white people) from before WWII.  I would like to have greater minority representation in my collection, but such photos are rare, and therefore desirable to collectors, and therefore expensive.  And let’s face it, I’m a collector on a tight budget.  Still, I think this one is interesting to look at because it’s a window into a way of life that is different from what I know.  And, as usual, I am intrigued by what I don’t know.  Where is this place?  (I call them African Americans, but that’s operating under the assumption that this is in America.)  What is that building?  Some sort of mill or workhouse, or even a large windowless home?  Who are these people?  Are they all family?  Do they own this place, or are they simply employed there?  Why are five people posed in the front while an adult and two children are lurking in the back?  Why is the woman in the white blouse dressed so much nicer than everyone else?  I hope this picture sparks your interest, too.

5 comments on “African Americans in a rural setting”

  1. Thank you for sharing this rare and precious photo.

  2. Based on my knowledge of, I would date this one c. 1910. And yes, having a photo of an African-American family is quite something. I have several hundred vintage photos dating from the 1850’s and concentrated in the Victorian era, and I am just starting to scan them in. My email is , and I’d love to hear from another vintage photo enthusiast. I mostly collect them for the ladies’ clothing, but sometimes other things catch my eye and “speak to me”. I have been collecting for about 3 years, and I even own 4 or 5 full photo albums (vintage albums) as well as over a dozen Union cases with old photos including ambrotypes and daguerrotypes.
    Yours in costuming, Lisa Ashton

    • Thanks for your comments, Lisa! It’s great to hear from another collector, and I appreciate your feedback on this photo. Despite my theater background, I’m not a costumer or even particularly knowledgeable about vintage design, so it’s fun for me to hear comments from people with more expertise. I just love looking at old photos of people, and felt it was time to share them. Scanning them has been fun because it forces me to take a closer look at each one. I hope you are enjoying the process, too.

    • Since you tried to put your e-mail address to network with others, and the system deleted it from your post, I’ll take the liberty of putting it here. Please let me know if you want it removed. lisa58 at juno dot com 🙂

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