New Exhibit Features Never-Before-Seen Photos of 19th Century Free Blacks

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 03, 2015

A thousand words are cool and all, but the creators behind a new exhibit at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African-American Art in Cambridge, Mass., are hoping that visitors walk away with even more to ruminate on. 

Black Chronicles II,” which opened yesterday, features life-sized prints of 100-plus images taken of black Victorian-era British citizens. Recently discovered in an archive in London, they provide a peek at the everyday lives of black people of the time. Many of the photos were taken for calling cards, or “cartes de visite.”

“There’s a healing aspect to seeing these exquisite images,” gallery director Vera Ingrid Grant told The Huffington Post. “It changes our perceptions of the past, and can reverberate and change how we view the present.”

Said co-curator Renée Mussai: “At the heart of the exhibition is the desire to resurrect black figures from oblivion and reintroduce them into contemporary consciousness. The full narrative of Africans in the world is an untold story."

"Black Chronicles II” runs through December 11, 2015, at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African-American Art (​