John Brown used photographs to raise funds and recruit followers to fight for liberation of slaves.
Fourteen photographic portraits are on exhibit in the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in October, 2009, for the 150th anniversary of the raid. It is also on display at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in Philadelphia beginning in October 2009. This full-color catalog of the exhibition adds many historic details and context of his life and movements.
Most of Brown's his original portraits were daguerreotypes. The prints are as close as possible to the original source, resulting in detail that is astonishing when compared with the familiar renditions in textbooks and the Internet. Abolitionist and Free-State emigration sponsors of several of the sittings wanted to utilize his charismatic force evident in the new medium.
The editor describes the practices of photography at the time, such as painted photographs, photographs projected onto canvas, as well as making reproducible negatives from the single-image daguerreotype with original photography copyright.
Association of some photographers with the Underground Railroad shows compelling evidence of John Brown s motivation and actions. Others were inventors and creators of new processes and techniques, which John Brown eagerly adapted, just as he wanted the newest weapons
Major collections of John Brown papers and artifacts are described by historians and archivists for readers who want to look for John Brown in their travels or research, and online. The definitive aspect of the exhibition and catalog is the dispersal of the early photographs into many institutional collections, which in turn copyright and reproduce them. This process is respected.
The images are grouped into three distinct time periods between 1848 and 1859: the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott Decision.
Jean Libby is a longtime chronicler of events and people associated with the John Brown raid. She began this independent journey in 1977 with assistance from the African American community in Jefferson County, West Virginia. As each decade brought new research and experiences, Jean developed a collection of reproductions of the original photographic portraits of John Brown.
In 2002 she began focusing on the images with the contribution of forensic analysis Dr. Eileen Barrow of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for identification and aging. Jean Libby s analyses were published in the annual of The Daguerreian Society Annual 2002-2003 and by Palgrave MacMillan in a collection of essays, The Afterlife of John Brown in 2005 ( John Brown, Bearded Patriarch ).
About the Author
Jean Libby is a retired instructor of U.S. History and Ethnic Studies at community colleges in northern California. She has written, edited, and photographed widely on John Brown the abolitionist since 1978.
She is now a small publisher named for the ad hoc group of teachers, librarians, and local historians formed in 1999 who published John Brown Mysteries by Allies for Freedom.
After completing a Professional Photography A. A. degree in 1978, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, as a re-entry student, completing her B.A. in Social Science / African American Studies in 1986. Jean was awarded a President s Undergraduate Fellowship at the University of California to document her thesis on John Brown, Mean To Be Free: John Brown s Black Nation Campaign on videotape for the cable classroom series.
She holds an M.A. in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University, receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student award at the School of Ethnic Studies in 1991.