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Picture Freedom

In the decades leading up to the end of U.S. slavery, many free Blacks posed for daguerreotypes—a type of very early photograph. These portraits captured their stories and recorded history, served to prepare blacks and whites both for the coming realities of emancipation, and dignified their subjects, particularly by representing Blackness outside the cultural trappings and assumptions of slavery. In Picture Freedom, Duke University Professor Jasmine Nichole Cobb explores these images to trace the emergence of black freedom as an idea and as a visual representation that has always been crucial - if contentious - to establishing selfhood.