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36 More Stunning Photos of Black Women in the Victorian Era

Avatar • Nov 25, 2015

Earlier, this year we shared 10 stunning photos of black women in the Victorian era, and now we have more stunning images to share! Many of these photos are the work of a photographer named of Alvan S. Harper. Harper’s photos featured many teachers, business owners and leaders from a then burgeoning black community in Tallahassee, Fl.

In the last decades of the 19th Century, white Southern society began to pass laws to reverse the gains African Americans made during Reconstruction. By 1900, the Age of Jim Crow (legal segregation) was in full swing. Yet as these images taken by Tallahassee photographer Alvan S. Harper reveal, many African Americans were able to prosper despite the social and legal restrictions they faced.

Check out the stunning images below.

black victorian

Source

black victorian woman

Source

Equestrian Selika Leviski 1891

Equestrian Selika Lazevski 1891 Source

Nellie Franklin Source

Nellie Franklin Source

Source

Rosebud Denham Source

Mary Merritt Source

Mary Merritt Source

Share your thoughts on the photos below!

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About Rinny

Texan by birth, Los Angeleno by situation. Lover of Tame Impala and Shoegaze music. Comedian by trade. Macaroni and Cheese connoisseur by appetite.

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redpaperlantern
redpaperlantern
4 years ago

Wow! I love these photos. The level of detailing that went into these beautiful garments is nearly mind-boggling. I am so very impressed. And the hairdo were great, too. Thanks for sharing!

Christina J
4 years ago

Very classy and so inspirational!

Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas
Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas
4 years ago

These women are so beautiful!

Claudette UK
Claudette UK
4 years ago

I love the familiarity of their faces.

Adama Amina Powell
Adama Amina Powell
4 years ago

So stunning,All ofl these women had uniquely strong facial features! Makes me exceptionally proud to be a black woman!

Lulu
Lulu
4 years ago

#3 is not an African-American woman. She’s actually a Black Canadian woman. This photo can be found on the Government of Canada’s archive website for photos of a prominent Black Canadian community in Ontario. Please correct the error, bglh! Do a reverse search and you’ll see the young lady lived in Canada. It’s a very important distinction because some would believe black Canadians only came to Canada in the 70s.

lis
lis
4 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

Interesting…so where did the Blacks in Canada come from prior to the seventies…I know a lot came from America fleeing slavery but did they come from other areas.

Junebug123
Junebug123
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

carribean i think.

Samantha
Samantha
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

They came from AMERICA.…

maralondon
maralondon
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

The trading of Africans via America and the Caribbean during the slave trade though not a huge population. Migration kicked in during the American revolution and the Underground Railway movement. So there is a definite connection amongst us in the diaspora.

Annamuffin
Annamuffin
4 years ago
Reply to  maralondon

Over 200 years Africans ruled Sicily, and there influence are still seen to this day.…

Lulu
Lulu
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

Some were even brought to Canada as slaves (servants) when British settlers came. The number wasn’t LARGE but they still existed. It’s just frustrating because a lot of white Canadians try to erase black history so that we feel “thankful” that we were allowed to immigrate here. We’ve BEEN here, and our multifaceted stories aren’t always known or taught .

lis
lis
4 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

Thank you…I didn’t know that about Canadian history. …slavery in Canada…I never would have thought because people fleeing slavery in America thought of Canada as the promised land…thanks again.

Annamuffin
Annamuffin
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

It’s a shame that you don’t know the history of the African in the new world.… Some did flee America due to slavery because Canada had already ended slavery earlier. Thus they were a progressive nations.… Slaves also fled to Mexico.…. Fyi Mexico also had slaves as well, if you ever vist they have a museum one can tour to learn the history.… Also the prominent Mexican figure who fought in the Mexican Revolution and is depicted in statue, was a black man.…. Black people were every where.…

Elizabeth Buchan-Kimmerly
Elizabeth Buchan-Kimmerly
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

You may enjoy Laurence Hill’s Book of Negroes, which was also made into a TV mini-series in 2014.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Negroes_%28miniseries%29

Samantha
Samantha
4 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

It REALLY doesn’t matter. She is still of African descent!

Bb shark
Bb shark
4 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Yes, it DOES matter! Especially when it comes to eraser of ones culture and identity. Stop trying to make every one fit into the American idea of black… it DOES matter.

Annamuffin
Annamuffin
4 years ago
Reply to  Bb shark

The American ideal of black is designed by white people… That’s why Black Americans are so confused. Heck they don’t even take pride in their own Black American culture and identity.…

Kim
Kim
3 years ago
Reply to  Bb shark

I thought there was to be only one unifying idea of black culture. We all are descendants. It’s because we choose to separate and label as this kind of black or that kind of black, that’s why we’ve never been able to truly unify in power and strength. We are all black. Whether born in Africa, Canada, America, the Caribbean. If you want to define yourself look to the source of where or people come from, that’s where you’ll find the truth. We’re descendants of Kings and Queens. They are all beautiful women.

Lulu
Lulu
4 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

We all are! But distinctions matter when a country’s national identity is posited around white people+everyone else who immigrated. There are black Canadians who can trace their history back FARTHER than white Canadians, yet we are still seen as “other,” in our own country. It matters.

Star
Star
4 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

She is still black woman a lot of.African americans fled to Canada escaping slavery and just migrating

devans00
4 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

Americas stretch from the tip if South America to north Canada and Alaska. So if the woman was from Canada, she’s still a North American of African descent.

Crystal
Crystal
3 years ago
Reply to  Lulu

Do you know #3’s name if any? She actually looks like me and now that I know she is from Canada (where I’m from) She could be family. 🙂

Pearl
Pearl
4 years ago

I can’t express how much I love this pictures. I am definitely sharing this stunning images.

lis
lis
4 years ago

Beautiful.…good to be reminded that no matter what Black women THRIVE.

lis
lis
4 years ago

Another thing I’ve noticed with this series of throwback photos…The Black women are very slim and trim with tiny waists.…I mention this because in this modern day whenever the obesity/Black womens weight issue is raised someone always mention how Black women are naturally bigger than other groups of women…it’s soo not true

cryssi
cryssi
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

The woman 10th from the bottom is not slim, she’s full figured.…also all the women are not slim, they vary in sizes.…but I guess if you’re trying to prove a non existent point you will see what you want to see.

lis
lis
4 years ago
Reply to  cryssi

I really wasn’t trying to make a point(negative or otherwise)…but come on.…1 woman in the series might have been a little more full figured but even she didn’t come close to the proportions/weight I see on a lot of modern day Black women with a lot more advantages in every way.…it is so OBVIOUS.

Madina
Madina
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

Some of them were also probably wearing corsets no?

FrankiSideEye
FrankiSideEye
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

They probably have tiny waists because they were wearing corsets or are otherwise binding their waists, which didn’t go out of fashion until the 1920s, I believe.

lis
lis
4 years ago
Reply to  FrankiSideEye

True but even in other old photos with obviously no corset wearing the Black women were still overwhelmingly slim and trim and I do get there might be many reasons for this but it is so obvious and striking.

Annamuffin
Annamuffin
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

I love the natural hair displayed as well…

Jess
Jess
4 years ago
Reply to  lis

Obesity is a problem today, but it doesn’t just affect Black Women…

Samantha
Samantha
4 years ago

All of these Women are absolutely gorgeous!

ebaiden
ebaiden
4 years ago

yo.….. some of these women look like my neighbors’ mamas

Hope
Hope
4 years ago

I love how they are holding their head up in confidence.

mibtp
mibtp
4 years ago

To think about the harsh realities of life for black women back then is mind-blowing. And for them to show so much dignity, is astounding.

Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action
4 years ago

Beautiful..

Jess
Jess
4 years ago

These women exhude a lot of dignity. Love the Victorian-clothing style.

trackback

[…] This African Threading Hairstyle and the Nod to Victorian Era African American Women […]

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[…] This African Threading Hairstyle and the Nod to Victorian Era African American Women […]

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[…] $1.5 million to the cause. Also, below the former African threading hairstyle goes back to the Victorian Era  of the African American […]

devans00
4 years ago

Awesome set of pictures. Seemed like all of the ladies were middle or upper class? No laborers or working women took photos?

Nosleepin1
Nosleepin1
4 years ago

I did not know that about the renting of clothes. Interesting.

Rachel Nevada
Rachel Nevada
4 years ago

Their names are Maria, Victoria, Diamond, Stephanie, Jane… Does that help? You know people can see other as humans without knowing their names, right? I see nameless white Victorians in photos all the time and no one questions their personhood.

Alonzo Jacobs
Alonzo Jacobs
4 years ago

Loved the pictures which showed that despite that era and the Jim Crow climate, these Black women looked classy and held their heads up with dignity. So happy that they wren’t “mammified” to that typical stereotype of that time. I also Like that they weren’t “weaved up”.

zeldafitzgerald
zeldafitzgerald
4 years ago

So beautiful

Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly
4 years ago

Two comments: It would have been nice to have names for these beautiful ladies; not that they aren’t people of dignity, but knowing names would enhance their personhood for us. Also: given financial conditions of the times, it may be that several of these women didn’t actually own the clothes they wear, but rather rented them for the photo shoot (something done by many people then).

Lena Sinex
Lena Sinex
4 years ago

These are Amazing Thank you so much for these pictures are everything!. I have to post it in my FB POC Victorian Fashion Community
Community.https://www.facebook.com/MaisondeChocolate/

Deborah Lynn Jones
Deborah Lynn Jones
3 years ago

I just loved it an more„ wonderful in deed.
commet by Mrs Deborah Lynn Sockwell Davenport Jones-Black Sister

Dee
Dee
2 years ago

Wonderful! So great to see us chronicled during this era. Thank you.

Brenda
Brenda
2 years ago

Fabulously beautiful black queens

Lettie Dickens
Lettie Dickens
4 months ago

Love the Beautiful pictures

Lettie C.
Lettie C.
4 months ago

I love the pictures, such elegance is reflected in their headdress and posture

dmj
dmj
3 months ago

Stunning photos,I love them

Ria (Daria)
Ria (Daria)
2 months ago

Very Beautiful visual histories of women of the diaspora! They are so regal for what they had to endure in this world not only in America but globally. White Supremacy (White Fragility) was/is an interconnected system of policies, laws, institutions, ideologies, within a collusion of not only states but nations. With that said, American history is not what we’ve been told in school and universities! New research proves many “European” “white” Indentured Servants of the 1700s and early 1800s where “Black” people coming into America with a highly skilled labor pool who were later reclassified as Negros, Colored and thus… Read more »

Elayne Lewis
Elayne Lewis
2 months ago

Love these photos! Sharing with grandkids to show them we have always been part of this world.

Angela Witcher
Angela Witcher
1 month ago

Thanks for sharing these rare and beautiful photos!

Janice
Janice
1 month ago

The women look soo pretty. I feel like these types of images are hard to find.

Madeline Gutierrez
Madeline Gutierrez
1 month ago

This is amazing! I went to college in Tallahassee in the 1980s — and found it small and all most “backwoods” compared to Miami — where I was from. So I find photos like this — speaking of a thriving sophisticated African-American community 100 years before I was in Tallahassee — dumbfounding. Below are related excerpts from Wikipedia related to the historically and still today predominately black college in Tallahassee started in Victorian times — and perhaps in some way — the photos are related to the early days of the college. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_A%26M_University This is surely because of FAMU —… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Madeline Gutierrez
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