In March 1850, five men and two women were photographed in the studio of South Carolina artist Joseph Zealy. When these daguerreotypes were uncovered in 1976, they quickly became some of the best-known pre-Civil War images of enslaved African Americans. Gregg A. Hecimovich (NHC Fellow, 2015–16; 2022–23) is asking important questions about why these images were captured, how they were lost for so long, and what they might tell us about legacies of white supremacy and enslavement in the United States.
Image: Joseph T. Zealy, “Renty, frontal and profile,” 1850. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.