Photographic Life of Harriet: Tubman's Life in Pictures

Portrait of Harriet Tubman, Powelson


For Harriet Tubman’s 1868 carte-de-visit she sits in a full gingham-patterned skirt with her textured coifs parted down the middle. Tubman’s image appears in the album of Emily Howland, a white abolitionist and teacher, whose photograph collection included respectable-looking African American teachers, veterans and politicians. The photograph taken by Benjamin Powelson, in his Auburn, New York studio, features Tubman as we have never seen her—as a muse and not just a military genius. This Story+ project explored the visual life of Harriet Tubman in diverse illustrations of the abolitionist. Students working on this project organized the visual archive of Tubman’s representation from photographs she took during her lifetime, but to also her image in public memory, including statues, memorials, museums, murals and fine art by canonic artists to include Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Alison Saar as well as Glen Ligon.