Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

Sojourner Truth

“Sojourner Truth was born about 1799 in Ulster County, New York, on the west side of the Hudson River, some eighty miles north of New York City, in a region dominated culturally and economically by people of Dutch descent. … [H]er parents James and Elizabeth Bomefree named her Isabella. Their first language was Dutch. As a child Isabella belonged to several owners … She was emancipated by state law in 1827.”
Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (eds). Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Volume II, M-Z. Bloomington (Indiana University Press, 1993) page 1173


Truth had a remarkable life. She successfully sued in court for the return of her five-year-old son who was illegally sold into slavery in Louisiana. During her struggle to unite her family, she became deeply committed to her faith. Truth could neither read nor write but she became famous internationally for her activism in anti-slavery and women’s rights movements. Her statue is in the U.S. Capitol.


The photograph in this post is held by the Library of Congress and is referred to as “Sojourner Truth seated with photograph of her grandson, James Caldwell of Co. H, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, on her lap.”


Additional resources:
Daina Ramey Berry, “The Electrifying Speeches of Sojourner Truth,” YouTube, April 28, 2020

Sojourner Truth — Civil Rights Activist,” Biography, YouTube, December 12, 2012

Daina Ramey Berry. “How Early Photographs Reveal the Indomitable Spirit of Abolitionist Sojourner Truth,” Biography, January 30, 2018, accessed February 28, 2021




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This photograph of refrigerator-cars appeared in The Packers, the Private Car Lines, and the People by J. Ogden Armour, a key figure in the meat-packing industry.

“The wholesale and retail ice business of the City is also very large, there being two firms in this business, each having immense ice houses, and they ship large quantities to the fisheries of North Carolina, as well as to other points south of Norfolk.”
Cary W. Jones. Norfolk As A Business Center: Its Principal Industries and Trades.  (Norfolk: C.H. Windsor, 1882) 115 

Rawlins, Whitehurst & Co., Ice Dealers. Partners, Wm. Rawlins, C.H. Whitehurst, J.M. Haynes, H.A. DeWitt, and Ira D. Sturgis. In 1869 the firm of Rawlins, Baum, & Co. was organized, the present firm succeeding to the business in 1874. The three last mentioned partners look after the firm’s business in Maine. They handle between 8,000 and 10,000 tons of Ice per season and ship as far south as Cuba. Their city trade requires the use of 6 wagons, and they make a specialty of furnishing the fisheries in this State and North Carolina. Situated on Biggs’ wharf,  Nivison Street, conveniently to the different water and land transportation lines their shipping facilities are unsurpassed.” (See display ad)

See a brief description and display ad for the second firm Nottingham & Wrenn.


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“Mail was a treasured link between Civil War camps and battlefields and “back home.” Recognizing its importance to morale, the armies assigned personnel to collect, distribute, and deliver soldiers’ mail; wagons and tents served as traveling Post Offices.”

The complete article “Mail Service and the Civil War” which includes photographs is on the U.S. Post Office website.


Belle Plain (sometimes known as Belle Plains) is on Potomac Creek off the Potomac River in Stafford County, Virginia. The settlement served as a landing space for Civil War vessels carrying supplies, troops, and prisoners.


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“Immediately following the Civil War the venerable town of Hampton on the northern shore of Hampton Roads harbor became a gathering place for many freed slaves. With this large concentration of Negroes under the protection of the Union Army, it was almost natural that. an institution for the teaching and training of freed slaves be established here. It was through the urging of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a twenty-seven year old Brevet Brigadier General, then chief of the local Freedmen’s Bureau, that the local American Missionary Association purchased the 165-acre farm where the Federal Government had maintained a hospital during the war. It was Armstrong’s idea to create on this land a school to train young selected men and women “who should go out and teach and lead their people, first by example … and in this way then build up an industrial system for the sake, not only of self-support and intelligent labor but also for the sake of character. The school opened in 1868 with two teachers, fifteen pupils and General Armstrong as principal. In 1870 the school was chartered as the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute.”
National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form – Hampton Institute – Hampton, Virginia 

Today more than 4,000 students attend Hampton University  They come from 43 states and 28 countries. The university offers degrees in the School of Business,  School of Engineering and Technology, School of Liberal Arts and Education, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, and School of Journalism. The school motto is “The Standard of Excellence, An Education for Life.”

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Longshoremen (sometimes called “stevedores”) load and unload cargo. It’s dangerous and demanding work. These dockworkers handle containers (crates, barrels, sacks, bales) and unboxed items. They work in confined spaces and on uneven surfaces. Longshoremen use heavy equipment, dollies, pulleys, and ropes in spaces where air quality is questionable. They work year-round so weather conditions might be hot and humid, cold and rainy, or even snowy.

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“Norfolk and Western Ry. Co. Coal Yards, at Lamberts Point, Norfolk, Va.”

Harry Minium. “What’s in a name? Lamberts Point, Norfolk,” The Virginian-Pilot, pilotonline.com, June 27, 2008
“It is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and is home to some of Norfolk’s most high-profile institutions. … The area remained a rural part of Norfolk County until 1886, when Norfolk & Western Railway built the coal piers to replace a smaller pier downtown. Housing developed nearby for the coal pier workers, and some of those homes remain today.”


Norfolk Public Library: Pages from Norfolk’s Past: Lamberts Point
“By 1900, Norfolk was the leading coal exporting port on the East Coast – the industry continued to grow even through the Great Depression.”


Lambert’s Point: A Historical Geography
“The residents of Lambert’s Point are diverse; college students, retirees (primarily African American) and a spattering of blue-collar workers. The population today numbers over 3,000.
“This neighborhood is constantly changing. Over the years it has evolved from primarily African-American single-family homes to the inclusion of a large number of college students. The combination is not always harmonious.”


Natasha Geiling. ‘This is a matter of life and death’: A Virginia community choking on coal dust pleads for help,” ThinkProgress.org, 15 March 2018

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A midwife received her training during a long apprenticeship with an experienced midwife — very often an older relative. Midwives incorporated folk medicine, herbal remedies, and ritual. Their skills weren’t limited to labor, delivery and care of the new mother and infant. They also provided medical treatment to free and enslaved people in their community and occasionally to white citizenry.

Sharon A. Robinson, “A Historical Development of Midwifery in the Black Community: 1600–1940,” Journal of Nurse-Midwifery 29 (July/August 1984): 247–250. Nurse-midwife Sharon Robinson writes that there were midwives on the first boatloads of African slaves in 1619, p. 247.

Tracy Webber, “The African American Midwife During Antebellum Slavery,” in Celebrating the Contributions of Academic Midwifery: A Symposium on the Occasion of the Retirement From the Faculty of the Yale University School of Nursing of Professor Helen Varney Burst, ed. Donna Diers (New Haven: Yale University School of Nursing, 2005), 84–91, 88–89.

Herbert C.  Covey. African American Slave Medicine: Herbal and Non-Herbal Treatments. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007

Todd Lee Savitt. Medicine and Slavery: The Diseases and Health Care of Blacks in Antebellum VirginiaUrbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002

Linda Janet Holmes, guest curator, Reclaiming Midwives: Pillars of Community Support, Exhibit Booklet (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, Exhibit November 14, 2005– August 6, 2006).

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hospital-wharf-500x495“The basic principles for organization and support of the battlefield used in the Civil War were designed by Doctor Jonathan Letterman, the Medical Director for the Army of the Potomac. Doctor Letterman’s ambulance system, field hospital system and medical supply system soon became standard throughout the Medical Department….The Letterman system improved the care provided to the soldiers and established a standard for base requirements for personnel, equipment and supplies. The second concept to come out of the Civil War was the use of dedicated vehicles for medical evacuation. By the end of the war, control of selected boats, trains and wagons, was given to the Medical Department for evaluation of patients.”

Colonel Henry O. Tuell, III. “Medical Mobilization Since 1860: From Apathy to Action.” (Fort McNair, Washington, DC: National Defense University, The Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 1992), page 7.


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