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Hidden Mother

"Trying to get a baby or a fussy toddler to sit still for a photograph can feel like a herculean task. Luckily, it only takes a second to get the shot. In the nineteenth century, however, it was a different story—particularly when it came to tintype portraits, which required a long exposure. 

Photographer Laura Larson’s series, Hidden Mother, presents a survey of nineteenth-century tintype portraits in which the mother of the child was included in the photograph, but obscured. 

In some instances, the mother would hold her child, with a cloth or props hiding her from the lens, or she would be painted over by the photographer after the image had been taken. In other examples, the mother is entirely absent from the frame, save for an arm, holding the child in place. 

The results are both funny and slightly disturbing. The mother appears as an uncanny presence, Larson writes in a statement. Often, she is swathed in fabric, like a ghost.”  

Sept. 17, 1849: Harriet Tubman Attempts to Escape From Slavery

On this day in 1849, American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. She escaped alongside her brothers, Ben and Henry, who forced her to turn back with them after they had second thoughts.

Tubman ran away again shortly afterward without her brothers, this time successfully, using the Underground Railroad as her escape route to the North.

The Underground Railroad was a lifeline for slaves escaping to freedom, and Harriet Tubman became undoubtedly one of its most famous “conductors.”

PBS Black Culture Connection invites you to learn 10 interesting facts about Harriet Tubman.

Photo: Harriet Tubman, full-length portrait, standing with hands on back of a chair between ca. 1860 and 1875 (Library of Congress)

Ancient Egyptian Woman with 70 Hair Extensions Discovered

More than 3,300 years ago, in a newly built city in Egypt, a woman with an incredibly elaborate hairstyle of lengthy hair extensions was laid to rest.

She was not mummified, her body simply being wrapped in a mat. When archaeologists uncovered her remains they found she wore “a very complex coiffure with approximately 70 extensions fastened in different layers and heights on the head,” writes Jolanda Bos, an archaeologist working on the Amarna Project, in an article recently published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.

Researchers don’t know her name, age or occupation, but she is one of hundreds of people, including many others whose hairstyles are still intact, who were buried in a cemetery near an ancient city now called Amarna.

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September 17th 1787: US Constitution signed

On this day in 1787, the United States Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. The document was thus adopted by the Constitutional Convention, which included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. It was later ratified by the states and came into effect on March 4th 1789. The Constitution sets out the rules and principles that govern America to this day, and defines the powers of the three branches of federal government and the states. The first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and established basic rights of citizens, including freedom and speech and religion. The Constitution has since been amended 17 times, giving a total of 27 amendments. America’s is the oldest written constitution still used today.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

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The Bushmans Kloof rock art site in the Cederberg region of South Africa.

Recently awarded the status of a South African National Heritage Site, Bushmans Kloof contains over 130 rock art sites, some of which date to 10,000 years before present.

Stained with oxide pigments, these rocks depict the spiritual and cultural legacy of the San (also known as Bushmen), who have lived in these mountains for some 120,000 years. A particular point of interest about this rock art for some is the depictions of about 30 Cape mountain zebra, which are today endangered, with only about 1,200 remaining worldwide. Antelopes such as the eland, black wildebeest, and springbok are also depicted.

Recommended reading & food for thought: ‘Access to Rock Art Sites: A Right or a Qualification?’ By Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu in The South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 64, No. 189 (June 2009), pp. 61-68

Photos taken by mlaaker. The contrast and tone of the original images have been readjusted. 

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The First Photograph of a Human Being

"This photograph of Boulevard du Temple in Paris was made in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, the brilliant guy who invented the daguerreotype process of photography.

Aside from its distinction of being a super early photograph, it’s also the first photograph to ever include a human being.

Because the image required an exposure time of over ten minutes, all the people, carriages, and other moving things disappear from the scene. However, in the bottom left hand corner is a man who just so happened to stay somewhat still during the shot — he was having his shoes shined.”

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Happy 227th #ConstitutionDay!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through programs, and resources from the National Archives:

Have you ever been to the usnatarchives to see the Constitution in person?  

Bonus question - have you ever slept over in the same room as the Constitution?

Evening Dresses

c.1911-1913

France

The empire style of a straight column of drapery and a high waist was high fashion especially in the years 1912 and 1913. Heavy fringe on delicate fabrics was popular, too, like the white silk fringe and silver beaded fringe on the sleeves and on the train of the green dress. The bodice is trimmed with pale pink pearls and pink chiffon rose buds. The other evening gown has similar proportions with the high waist and short sleeves, although the shape is less angular and more curved, like the swirling feathers “drawn” on the net overskirt in black and silver sequins. However soft they both look, they both are boned in the bodice. Both dresses belonged to Florence Elizabeth Hopwood ‘11 who married the widowed tycoon, Charles William Gates soon after her graduation. Both dresses are likely made in France. (Smith College Historic Clothing Collection)

Smith College Historic Clothing Collection

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700-year-old skeletons found holding hands may make you believe in true love

The remains of a man and woman were found at the Chapel of St. Morrell, a 14th-century pilgrimage site in Hallaton, by archeologists from the University of Leicester, the Leicester Mercury reports. The archaeological dig, run by Hallaton Fieldwork Group volunteers, has been taking place for two weeks a year for four years.

But wait, they found more beneath them 

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