Harriet Tubman. Photo courtesy of the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture shared with the Library of Congress.
A never-before-seen photograph of Harriet Tubman as a young woman went on view today at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
“All of us had only seen images of her at the end of her life,” museum director Lonnie Bunch told the Smithsonian magazine. “She seemed frail. She seemed bent over, and it was hard to reconcile the images of Moses (one of Tubman’s nicknames) leading people to freedom. But then when you see this picture of her, probably in her early 40s, taken about 1868 or 1869… there’s a stylishness about her. And you would have never had me say to somebody ‘Harriet Tubman is stylish.’”
The photo is part of an album that belonged to the Emily Howland, a 19th-century philanthropist, educator, and abolitionist. The collodion print of Tubman—the escaped slave who famously became a leading abolitionist and organizer of the Underground Railroad—sits side-by-side with 44 albumen cartes de visite portraits and four tintype images of Civil War-era abolitionists, politicians, soldiers, and teachers.