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ABOVE LEFT  Family photograph with servants, Chocorua, New Hampshire, summer, 1890.
ABOVE RIGHT  Edward T. Cassell, Salem, Massachusetts, c. 1907. Mr. Cassell became Salem's most successful caterer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Photograph by Elwood G. Merrill.

The African Americana experience is documented in part by a wealth of visual images in several Boston repositories. In an effort to make these important collections available to a broad audience, the Boston Athenaeum organized the Boston African Americana Project in collaboration with Historic New England, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Bostonian Society. The result of the collaboration is an easily accessible online resource with more than six hundred items from 1770 to 1950, including broadsides, political cartoons, portraits, and views. There is a broad range of subject matter, including slavery, abolition, and the Civil War; rural and urban life; adults and children; and people at work and at leisure.

ABOVE LEFT  The Shaw Honor Guard surrounds the casket of the abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner, lying in state in the Massachusetts State House, March 15, 1874. Stereo view by Edward F. Smith.
ABOVE RIGHT  In this early twentieth-century photograph, taken by the Boston Building Department to document derelict structures, children have managed to get themselves included in the photographer's image.

"The digital collection pools these important resources. Students and teachers can now find the material they need without taking the time to visit each individual repository," says Stephen Nonack, Head of Readers' Services at the Boston Athenaeum and coordinator of the project. We invite you to explore the collection by visiting The project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The historic photographs shown here are a sampling of the many images depicting African Americans from Historic New England's Library and Archives that are included in the online collection.

—Lorna Condon
Curator, Library and Archives

ABOVE LEFT  Sara Baro Colcher, born c. 1836 in Sierra Leone, captured as a child by a slave merchant, and brought to live in Topsfield, Massachusetts, where she lived with a white family and received an education. She made her living as a cook and died in 1882. Carte de visite by Henry Wyman, c. 1865.
ABOVE RIGHT  Dining car workers on the Boston & Albany Railroad, c. 1910.

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