Exhibitions/ Art Object

Emancipated Slaves Brought from Louisiana by Colonel George H. Banks

Myron H. Kimball (American, active 1860s)
December 1863
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 13.2 x 18.3cm (5 3/16 x 7 3/16in.), oblong oval Mat: 19.9 x 25.2 cm (7 13/16 x 9 15/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
In December 1863, Colonel George Hanks of the 18th Infantry, Corps d'Afrique (a Union corps composed entirely of African-Americans), accompanied eight emancipated slaves from New Orleans to New York and Philadelphia expressly to visit photographic studios. A publicity campaign promoted by Major General Nathaniel Banks of the Department of the Gulf, and by the Freedman's Relief Association of New York, its sole purpose was to raise money to educate former slaves in Louisiana, a state still partially held by the Confederacy. One group portrait, several cartes de visite of pairs of students, and numerous portraits of each student were made.
When this photograph was published as a woodcut in "Harper's Weekly" of January 30, 1864, it was accompanied by the biographies of the eight emancipated slaves, which served successfully to fan the abolitionist cause. Two are quoted below.

AUGUSTA BROUJEY is nine years old. Her mother, who is almost white, was owned by her half-brother, named Solamon, who still retains two of her children.

WILSON CHINN is about 60 years old. He was "raised" by Isaac Howard of Woodford County, Kentucky. When 21 years old he was taken down the river and sold to Volsey B. Marmillion, a sugar planter about 45 miles above New Orleans. This man was accustomed to brand his negroes, and Wilson has on his forehead the letters "V. B. M." Of the 210 slaves on this plantation 105 left at one time and came into the Union camp. Thirty of them had been branded like cattle with a hot iron, four of them on the forehead, and the others on the breast or arm.

In his negative, Kimball retouched the brand on Wilson Chinn's forehead to make the initials appear more visible on the print.
Inscription: Inscribed in the negative, TL: "VBM"; printed in letterpress on the overmat, recto TL to TR: "EMANCIPATED SLAVES BROUGHT FROM LOUISIANA BY COL. GEORGE H. HANKS. // The Children are from the Schools established by order of Maj. Gen. Banks."; BL to BR: "Wilson Chinn. Mary Johnson. Robert Whitehead. // Chas. Taylor. Augusta Broujey. Isaac White. Rebecca Huger. Rosina Downs. // Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by Geo. H. Hanks, in the Clerk's Office of the United States for the Southern District of New-York. // Photographed by M.H. Kimball, 477 Broadway."
[Paul Katz, February 26, 1985]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York

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