We prepared to study the Chapman albums by examining a variety of black women’s early portraits. Most interesting were the choices women made about pose, clothing, and props. These details reflected how they hoped to be seen and brought women like Arabella into a tradition of black women’s portraiture. Here, Katie Diekman contrasts Arabella’s portrait […]Continue Reading... 3 Comments.
Often our first response to old photos is to remark upon their beauty and admire their technical qualities. As Boseong Yun explains, we must not stop there. Photographs like those in the Chapman albums demand a much closer reading, one that goes beyond what we might know from other historical sources. Taking his cue from […]Continue Reading... No Comments.
The start of any research project might begin like a fishing trip; you’ve got your rod and bait in one hand and dreams of catching the big one in the other. Here, Deja Valrie draws upon a fishing metaphor to explain how she persisted with her research for The Arabella Chapman Project, even when nothing […]Continue Reading... No Comments.
Some of the most compelling images in the Chapman albums remain a mystery. Many students took time to examine a single photo and explain its intrigue. Robyn Bryan describes how she came to the image titled “Sophie.” Its style and form drew her in, and soon she longed to know more. For Robyn, there were not […]Continue Reading... No Comments.
When working on the Chapman albums, we each developed our own relationship to the albums and the images they contain. That relationship might be a practical one, such as having a task to complete. But often, after time spent with the images, a researcher’s mind turns to bolder purposes. In this essay, Chavon Taylor wrestles with her goals for […]Continue Reading... No Comments.
A photo album can appear to be a random collection of images, until we discover some important context. With this, we might uncover the logic of those who assembled them. In this essay, Marie Georger explains how she found a connection between Arabella Chapman and the image of Frederick Douglass. It’s Friday, late afternoon, and I find […]Continue Reading... No Comments.
At first, Arabella’s face was unfamiliar to us. Only over time did we learn to how recognize her among nearly 100 photographs. Here, Dominique Horne reflects on her earliest encounter with two (nearly) identical images of Arabella. Dominique shows how close reading of images was a first step toward unraveling the album’s mysteries. Who is she? As I stared […]Continue Reading... No Comments.