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Martinique: vues & types, 1870s-1880s

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Martinique: vues & types

Scope and Content of Collection

The album contains 69 albumen photographs of Martinique by an unidentified maker(s) including 24 large format and 25 carte-de-visite size views of Fort-de-France, Balata, St. Pierre, and environs; three large format portraits; and 17 carte-de-visite size studio portraits. One of the large photographs depicts a group of East Indian immigrants, likely recruited to the island as indentured laborers; the other two are studio portraits of a multiracial woman and a Congolese man respectively. Slavery was abolished in Martinique in 1848. Lacking a labor force French coffee and sugar planters first looked to coastal western Africa where they purchased enslaved persons, emancipated them, and then signed them into long-term contracts to work in Martinique. This practice was quickly viewed as enslavement in another guise, and the planters then looked to East India for laborers.

The album is half bound in dark red leather with pebbled boards. The title is debossed on the front cover.

Titles for most of the individual photographs are from the French captions written on the mounts below the images. Consequently, some of the language used to describe Black persons in the titles, such as négresses and mulâtresses (negro women and mulatto women), are now considered to be outdated, racist, or offensive. Fifteen of the carte-de-visite size portraits depict women of color. Grouped on two pages and collectively captioned as representing racial types, these images extend the 1860s and 1870s craze of collecting cartes-de-visite of one's friends, family, heads of state, and other celebrities to the collecting of exoticized and objectified unnamed women. Since the names of the sitters are unknown descriptive titles for their portraits were devised by the archivist.


Arranged in a single series:
Series I. Martinique: vues & types, 1870s-1880s.

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