Slave-Era Photo Found

Rare Photo of Slave Children

Rare Photo of Slave Chil­dren: John and an Uniden­ti­fied Young Boy

Today’s news includes the report of the dis­cov­ery — at an estate sale in Char­lotte, North Car­olina — of a slave-era photo of two young boys, one iden­ti­fied as “John,” and another uniden­ti­fied, pho­tographed by the Mathew Brady stu­dio, prob­a­bly by Brady’s assis­tant Tim­o­thy O’Sullivan.

It’s a stun­ning pho­to­graph. One can see the toll slav­ery has taken on these chil­dren. As it was less affect­ing at the time than the pho­tographs of whipped and abused slaves, it is nonethe­less an amaz­ing tes­ta­ment to the evil legacy of the found­ing fathers who built the racial vio­lence and sub­jec­tion of black slavery.

As a geneal­o­gist, I can­not help but won­der whether these chil­dren had descen­dants, and whether these descen­dants are search­ing for them. Along with the pho­to­graph, a bill of sale for John for $1,150 in 1854.

What hap­pened to the two young boys after slav­ery times? Where did their fam­ily live and go? How did their for­tunes fare?

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