© Randall Studio, ca. 1870, Sojourner Truth (born: Isabella Baumfree)

In the mid-late 1800s, cartes-de-visite were made, purchased and traded in the millions. They often became treasured likenesses that inspired and invited emulation. Popular around the same time were the slightly larger cabinet cards, probably the best-known of which was the image of Sojourner Truth, a former slave turned abolitionist and orator. (+)

Truth had achieved recognizability long before this portrait was made. Born Isabella Baumfree, a slave, in upstate New York in 1797, she adopted the name Sojourner Truth when she became a Methodist minister in 1843. Within a decade she was traveling widely, lecturing against slavery, and in 1851 gave her famous speech, known as Ain’t I a Woman? at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. (read more)

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