Black Americana encompasses more than inaccurate caricatures and stereotypes. African Americans used photography to showcase themselves in a dignified and authentic light. Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians & Early 20th Century Ancestors honors the diverse portrait collection that reflects accurate Black Americana characterization. Every photograph is an original copy from my carefully curated personal collection. Although the photos do not contain the names of the subjects, each portrait allows us to visualize parts of their stories through the descriptive details. It is critical to preserve these captivating photos and honor their legacies. The portrait collection spans the Civil War Era, Reconstruction Period, and the early 20th century. From the beginning of permanent photographic inventions during the 19th century, Black ancestors have always used the lens to reflect their authentic selves. Unsung Portraits celebrates their pioneering legacies and positive self-portrayals.
Every historical portrait within the collection tells another part of American history, which is often not celebrated enough. These meritorious images emphasize elegance, dignity, poise, and positive self-identity formation. Despite the social injustices and inaccurate depictions that plagued society, Black ancestors utilized photographic technology to showcase their values and distinguished stories. The collection includes daguerreotypes, Carte de Visite prints (CDV), and Real Photo Postcards (RPPC). The portrait book also includes historical reference information, including biographical details of pioneering Victorian Era Black photographers. It was important to include versatile examples that are primary sources and aid in updating the narrative of Black Americana symbolism.