Emory Libraries debuts Framing Shadows online exhibit

Emory Libraries debuted the online exhibit site on April 29 for “Framing Shadows: Portraits of Nannies from the Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection.”



The online exhibit is based on the physical exhibit of the same name, which was on display in Emory University Woodruff Library throughout most of 2019. “Framing Shadows” was curated by Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, associate professor of American Studies and African American Studies at Emory, who chose about 20 photos from the 1840s to the 1920s from the Langmuir collection. In the exhibit, she shared her research into the African American women and girls who cared for the children of white families, and she encouraged viewers to challenge commonly held stereotypes and consider the caregivers’ situations from their point of view.

“This online exhibit opens up new opportunities for us to reach wider audiences,” said Emory Libraries exhibitions manager Kathy Dixson. “The curator has created such a thought-provoking exhibit, and we’re pleased to make her work accessible to more people.”

Emory Libraries exhibition graphic designer Caroline Corbitt designed the website with the help of Emory Center for Digital Scholarship systems lead Chase Lovellette and digital scholarship specialist Kayla Shipp.

“I’m most excited about preserving this scholarship that Kimberly, the curator, has put forth,” Corbitt said. “There hasn’t been another way to save her descriptive labels that accompanied the portraits. Once an exhibit comes down, it kind of goes away. By bringing the exhibit online, it preserves the exhibit and the curator’s research. You can really hear her voice throughout it.”

Bringing the “Framing Shadows” exhibit online is also a great way to reach people who are staying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.  After the physical exhibit’s run in the Woodruff Library last year, it was installed in January at the Oxford College Library and was on view until all Emory and Oxford College buildings closed in mid-March. It continues its run at Oxford’s library through December 2020.

Related links:

Framing Shadows: What historical photos can teach us about the lives of African Americans in domestic service

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