UVA Today spotlights study of African Americans in photos from Library Holsinger Collection

Bill Hurley, Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

An article in UVA Today is featuring a collaboration between UVA history professor John Edwin Mason and Worthy Martin, director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, to bring early 20th century photographic portraits of African Americans in the Library’s Holsinger Studio Collection to the public. A number of the nearly 500 photos of African Americans in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library will be displayed in a series of events funded by an Arts & Sciences Diversity and Inclusion grant.

An outdoor display will adorn the barrier around the construction site of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, east of the Rotunda, and on Saturday, March 9, there will be a “Family Photo Day” at the Jefferson African American Heritage Center from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. People may come and view the photos and possibly give information about family and community members they may recognize—there are many photos for which there is little or no information.

The images, says Martin, “are so evocative, it really feels like someone is reaching through the camera to tell you who they are, and how they want to project themselves.” According to Mason, they bring “a new way of seeing Charlottesville and its history onto the landscape … providing context around where these people lived, where they worked and who they were.”

For more about the project, read the article “Snapshots of Local History, Displayed Anew” (UVA Today 3/6/2019).

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