Blacks Schools

Black schooling, during the period of Reconstruction, occurred in various locations of the rural south: churches, homes, work-locations, etc. School buildings were constructed from limited resources through collaborations with parents, missionary associations, and civic and church leadership. This image is of a colored school in rural Louisiana (no date).  Although this image may appear to capture an integrated school (not uncommon but fewer in number than all-black schools) some of the students maybe mixed-race, or descendent of mixed race parents.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Colord School” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 8, 2018.

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Charlotte L. Forten Grimke (1837-1914)

Forten wrote in her diaries on the fortitude of freed people to receive education: “how a people who have been so long crushed to the earth, so imbruted as these have been can have so great a desire for knowledge, and such a capability for attaining it.”

Charlotte Forten [Grimke], born into a prominent Free Black family in Philadelphia, came to Port Royal, South Carolina in 1862. She taught the newly freed people for a couple of years before returning North due to declining health. In 1878 she married the much younger Rev. Francis Grimke, nephew of ardent abolitionists Sarah Grimke and Angelina Grimke Weld. (Beaufort District Collection, Beaufort County Library)

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Lottie Grimke" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Black Education – Nineteenth Century

This photograph is a model of the more commonly held image of black education in the era of Emancipation and Reconstruction. Taken shortly after the end of the Civil War, the image suggests the leadership of white women and the participation of black children in educational pursuits. Recent scholarship has emphasized the contributions of black teachers (women and men), black soldiers, and black parents in supporting and leading the cause of black education.
Portrait of teacher Laura M. Towne, a founder of the Penn School, with students Dick, Maria and Amoretta. 1866

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Recent Photography Sales at Auction

End of September and October generated a small listing of photographs by black photographers at auction with Swann Auction Galleries and Phillips.  Here’s a quick round-up of the results.

Swann’s October 6th African-American Art Auction
Photographs by James Van Der Zee (1886-1983) were featured at Swann Auction Galleries, October 6th sale of African-American Art.  Portraits of the Barefoot Prophet (Lot 9) and Hazel Scott (Lot 10) were sold at auction estimates, $2,860 and $ 3,250.  And a portfolio of eighteen (18) silver gelatin and sepia prints (Lot 11) sold for $ 87,500, surpassing the auction estimate of $30,000 – 50,000.  From the online catalogue: A handsome portfolio, published by Harry Lunn, Jr., with iconic images from VanDerZee’s photographic career. It includes various subjects of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as studies of Marcus Garvey, Daddy Grace, and formal family portraits.

Prentice Herman Polk (1898-1985), Lot 14, a portfolio of eleven (11) prints featuring such commonly published images as The Boss (1932), and The Pipe Smoker (1932) sold for $ 13,750.  From the online catalogue: Edition of 60 numbered copies. Each signed in ink, lower right. Signed and numbered 18/60 on the title page of the introduction. Published by South Light, Gladewater, Texas in 1981.

Lot 67, Boy and H, Harlem (Stickball) by Louis Draper (1935-2002) sold for $3,000 its low estimate.  Draper was a founding member of Kamoinge, a New York-based black photographers collective, active 1963 to the present.

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Carrie Mae Weems’ (1953-) work represented in Lots 142, Mirror, Mirror, and Lot 165, Tell me, I beseech you, when I casted my vote to you, did I cast it to the wind?, sold for $ 25,000 and $2,000 respectively.  Each realized the low estimate.

Phillips’ Photographs Evening & Day Sale, October 5 & 6 featured Roy DeCarava’s Arnette, NY, Lot 103, which sold for $ 16,250, the auction estimate.

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