The identity of a young African American woman wearing a flowered hat and a lacey blouse, looking out from a photo portrait taken over a century ago, is a mystery under investigation. It’s only one of the Holsinger studio photos of African Americans on display through March in a pop-up exhibition in the Northside branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, part of the Holsinger Portrait Project, a partnership of UVA and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.
The exhibition is a teaser, according to project co-director, associate history professor John Edwin Mason, “with just enough information to give context for those viewers who haven’t seen the images or known about the Holsinger Studio Collection” — a collection of over 9,000 camera negatives taken in the early 20th century, held by the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
“The library exhibition is just one component of this forthcoming effort,” said Holly Robertson, exhibitions coordinator of UVA’s Special Collections Library. “It is supported by the Jefferson Trust, the University Library, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Department of History. There will be an exhibition at the Jefferson School and a broad community engagement program with events, programs and exterior art installations.”
Read more about the exhibition and the Holsinger Portrait Project in the UVA Today article Pop-Up Exhibit of African American Portraits Highlights Pride, Hints at History.