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Honoring American Archives Month: Upcoming October Events & Unsung Portraits Book Announcement

Tanzy Ward

October is American Archives Month, which includes the historical significance of preserving portraits & family heirlooms. Antique portraits of our ancestors are important primary sources and interesting historical reflections from the past. Unfortunately, sometimes inaccurate depictions can overshadow positive self-portrayals. This is true for antique portraits of Black people during the 19th and early 20th century. Although there is a substantial number of photographs that depict Black Victorians in a poised & elegant way, caricatures and stereotypes have also plagued them for centuries. Therefore, it is an honor to preserve and collect antique heirlooms that depict Black Victorians. Antique portrait lockets, mourning stick pins, and daguerreotypes are a few examples that includes extraordinary images of Black Victorians.

(Portrait Collage of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Edwardians. Collage Includes Cabinet Card Photos, Real Photo Post Cards, and Convex Glass Portrait. From Personal Collection & Will Be Featured in Upcoming Book-Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Ancestors )
(Antique Victorian Era Mourning Portrait Stickpin In Memory of An Unidentified African American Woman. From Personal Collection & Will Be Featured In Upcoming Book, Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Ancestors.) 


To honor and uplift the legacies of Black Victorians & to celebrate American Archives Month, I will be soon releasing a portrait/historical reference book titled “Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Ancestors”. In addition, I am a co-contributor for Yale University's Small Nation Photographs: Allegories, Renditions, & A Small Nation of Women Exhibit at the Sarah G. Smith Gallery in Yale Divinity School (October 18th-January 28th). The exhibit will emphasize & showcase antiques that are connected to Black Victorians during post-emancipation years. The objects on display will include antique portraits, Victorian Era jewelry, & other rare heirlooms. I am also honored to be one of the guest presenters at the 2021 Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Virtual Conference on October 16th. My topic, “Protecting African American Heirlooms & Antiques” will be both engaging & educational. The presentation will emphasize the proper preservation efforts and historical significance of rare African American antiques. In the antique industry, it is always rather refreshing & extraordinary to come across antique original portraits of Black Victorians. My upcoming book project, AAHGS virtual conference, and the Yale University Small Nation Photographs exhibit, are all intricately connected to October’s American Archive Month.  

(Official Cover For My Upcoming Book, Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Ancestors. The Book Features An Extensive Collection of Daguerreotypes, Cabinet Cards, RPPC's, Jewelry Portrait Accessories, Convex Glass photos, and More From My Personal Collection. The Book Will Also Include Historical Reference Commentary & Information For Educational Purposes. Release Date Soon To Be Announced)

(For the 2021 Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Virtual Conference, I Am Honored to Be Presenting an Informative & Educational Presentation titled 'Protecting African American Heirlooms & Antiques' on October 16th. The Presentation Will Include Advice and Helpful Knowledge On Proper Preservation of Antique Photos and Jewelry That Are Connected to Black Victorians. The Presentation Will Also Include The History & Different Types of Antique Photography.) 

(Yale University's Small Nation Photographs Exhibit Will Emphasize Historically Significant Antiques That Are Connected to Black Victorians. The Theme of The Exhibit Includes The Identity Formation & Post-Emancipation Values of Black Victorians. The Objects On Display Includes Antique Original Portraits, Accessories, & More That Feature Black Victorians. Exhibit Is October 18th-January 28th 2022 at Sarah G. Smith Gallery-Yale Divinity School) 


 Although October is reserved for American Archives Month, historic preservation should be emphasized routinely. In my world, it is vital & historically important to preserve precious heirlooms that our ancestors left behind. I adore and cherish my own personal family/ancestral archive, & I care for others as well. I am so excited and honored to be a part of great preservation work & events that celebrate antique archival objects from the past. Our ancestors left their insightful items behind, & we must continue to preserve their memories & stories in an accurate way. Historic preservation is not only significant to studying the past, but is also intricately connected to the present & future. 

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