Discussion Why were blacks included in white portraits?

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OpnCoronet

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varied reasons exist for blacks in portraits with whites, but in the case of those in this thread, I believe, it was because in most well to do slave owners, had house slaves to do most house work, among which was to assist in the child rearing duties of the white families.

In some families(as in many aristocratic families in Europe) infants and younger children had more familiar with their slave nannies than their mothers in the first years after birth and established close relationships with them

In early photography, subjects had to maintain a fixed position in front of the camera for several, usually uncomfortable minutes some times up to 30 minutes. Young children such as those on this thread, I would think, were more settled and calm with their familiar nannies or friends, than with their less well known parents, at that time.
 

jgoodguy

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varied reasons exist for blacks in portraits with whites, but in the case of those in this thread, I believe, it was because in most well to do slave owners, had house slaves to do most house work, among which was to assist in the child rearing duties of the white families.

In some families(as in many aristocratic families in Europe) infants and younger children had more familiar with their slave nannies than their mothers in the first years after birth and established close relationships with them

In early photography, subjects had to maintain a fixed position in front of the camera for several, usually uncomfortable minutes some times up to 30 minutes. Young children such as those on this thread, I would think, were more settled and calm with their familiar nannies or friends, than with their less well known parents, at that time.
All good points, but less well to do might have a part time nanny too. In my childhood of 1950s, it was common for even a average factory worker to have a maid for part of the day. It was very cheap, a legacy of Jim Crow.
 

KansasFreestater

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One of the great hypocrises of racism, especially in the South: blacks are declared to be inferior yet are somehow qualified to have a major role in raising white children.
Yes! Thank you for pointing out a paradox that has always struck me as odd!

In our own time, we often see that same paradox with people from south of the border....

In both cases, it's odd how the dominant/white population delegates or projects very intimate and important facets of human existence -- food, music, keeping of house and garden, nurture of children -- to another group whom they pay poorly, and exclude from all the other facets of their life.
 

James N.

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One of the great hypocrises of racism, especially in the South: blacks are declared to be inferior yet are somehow qualified to have a major role in raising white children.
Yes! Thank you for pointing out a paradox that has always struck me as odd!

In our own time, we often see that same paradox with people from south of the border....

In both cases, it's odd how the dominant/white population delegates or projects very intimate and important facets of human existence -- food, music, keeping of house and garden, nurture of children -- to another group whom they pay poorly, and exclude from all the other facets of their life.
Hypocrisy or not, like it or not, a plain fact was that many of the house servant class were considered part of the family and as such were included in photos as in this most famous example of A. M. and Silas Chandler:

Sergeant A.M. Chandler, 44th Mississippi Infantry, Co. F., and Silas Chandler.jpg
 
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KansasFreestater

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Oh yes, I totally know what you mean. Years ago, some Texas magazine, I think it was Texas Monthly, did a feature on modern Southern white women and their black housemaids. It made the point that they often become very close, intimate, lifelong friends. Knowing of one such case personally, I don't doubt for a second the genuineness of the affection.
 

ErnieMac

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Hypocrisy or not, like it or not, a plain fact was that many of the house servant class were considered part of the family and as such were included in photos as in this most famous example of A. M. and Silas Chandler:

View attachment 139398
I agree. The house servants were frequently considered family even though the slaves themselves did not feel that close attachment in many cases. Not that their opinion were asked or considered.
 

Hoseman

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I think Gen. Cash got it right. It was purely a way of showing-off one's material assets.
Despite what you might think, did you ever consider that the young black and white children may actually have been friends? I have read dozens of accounts where the children all played together and were treated as part of the family. These children grew up together and oftentimes became very close.
 

BelleBlackburn

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Yes! Thank you for pointing out a paradox that has always struck me as odd!

In our own time, we often see that same paradox with people from south of the border....

In both cases, it's odd how the dominant/white population delegates or projects very intimate and important facets of human existence -- food, music, keeping of house and garden, nurture of children -- to another group whom they pay poorly, and exclude from all the other facets of their life.

I have always wondered why we pay the caretakers of our children and our elderly such astounding low wages when they are entrusted with the care of what should be our most precious people. I paid about $4,000/mo for my mother to be in assisted living (her money) and they paid her overworked caregivers $8/hr, and there was usually only one for multiple patients. Somebody was well paid but it wasn't them. Only the very rich pay their nannies well, the rest work very hard for very little pay.
 

AndyHall

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One of the great hypocrises of racism, especially in the South: blacks are declared to be inferior yet are somehow qualified to have a major role in raising white children.
55007a.jpg


Dick Gregory made an observation about the differences in race relations in the North and the South that really does capture a common dynamic:

"Up North, they don't care how big I get so long as I don't get too close. In the South, they don't care how close I get so long as I don't get too big."

That difference has played out over again and again in this country, across the generations. I think it's a relevant observation here because these images show it in action -- African American house servants are closely and intimately intertwined with the lives of the families they served, but always, always separated by an invisible and unbreakable line in the social order.
 
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lelliott19

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Hypocrisy or not, like it or not, a plain fact was that many of the house servant class were considered part of the family and as such were included in photos
While I do not have a photograph, I do have documentation that my 2x great grandfather had tremendous esteem for Sam Cross. Sam was an enslaved man who was 7 years younger than my 2x great grandfather. I presume that Sam was "gifted" to my 2x great grandfather. They were both born in NC and wound up in AL.

Sam may have gone with my ancestor when he attended college at Princeton and when he went to Medical School in Pennsylvania. Whether or not he went off to college, Sam traveled with Dr. Cross when he came to Alabama and is listed on Dr. Cross' slave schedule as his "property" in 1850 and 1860.

When Dr. Cross enlisted, Sam went off with him as indicated in the letter dated Oct 31, 1861 which reads in part:
You will be allowed 2 tents furnished you if you wish and forage for 3 horses. Believe I would bring 2 horses were I in your place. One might die or get killed & you might want your boy* to ride some time.

*Ref Sam Cross, who was Dr. Cross’ “body servant” throughout the War. (Read the whole story here https://civilwartalk.com/threads/bring-2-horses-one-might-die-or-get-killed.112632/ )

Fast forward 8 years .... the war was over and the two men made it home alive - together. In a handwritten deed dated, filed, and witnessed January 4 1869, Dr. Cross transferred ownership of land and a house in the small town of Cherokee, AL to Sam Cross. According to my grandfather, this was done in recognition and grateful appreciation of Sam’s service 'all during the War Between the States.' At the time in Alabama, less than 1 in 51 African American families owned land.
signatures-on-deed-png.65499.png
 
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