Blog Post #3: Omeka items


The visual piece that I chose from the links in the sources and data set page on the course website was a picture by Richbourg Galliard. This photo depicted a reenactment of a model that had a Bell rack attached to him. The bell rack was attached around the neck of the slave and fastened by a belt around the waist which held the rod in place and in most cases a bell was attached to the top and slave owners would put these on slaves in order to stop their attempt to run away. This also could be used as a tracking device, as it was difficult to take off and would attract a lot of attention from the bell. I decided to choose this piece because it stood out to me in the aspect of how cruel this was. Not only were slaves beaten and assaulted while working they also had to wear these devices to prevent escape. This is just another example that solidifies how slaves were not treated as humans and just a tool. I did some research after choosing this piece and found that it was mostly used by Alabama slave owners and the device was made from Iron. I thought that it was used across the southern states, however, I realized that during these times communication was difficult. The research question on this topic may be; what were the different devices/tactics that slave owners used to deter and prevent escape?


This piece which I was unable to find the creator was a newspaper article from March 12, 1891, and involved a family reunification. William H. Todd was separated and sold to a slave owner twelve years prior to the war. There were 14 brothers and all adopted the names of the slave owners who possessed them, all 14 fought for the union army, and eight were killed at the pillow massacre. Todd had been writing to his mother for years trying to get into contact with her and find her whereabouts after forty years of separation. I choose this piece because I can’t even imagine what slaves had to go through when separated from their family when sold at auction or during capture. It makes me happy to see a good ending to any type of family separation let alone forty years. I was unable to find the creator after it was not labeled on the webpage and in my further research. Maybe the writer of the article didn’t include his name or wanted to be anonymous.  The research question that this may arise is; how often were slaves after being freed, reunited with their families?


One thought on “Blog Post #3: Omeka items

  1. These are excellent historical sources that tap into some of the most sensitive parts of the history of slavery. I personally find it difficult to search through the material culture of any history because it humanizes it in a way that traditional documentary evidence cannot. The bell rack is one of these sources, and it forces people to consider the many violent aspects of slavery.

    The second textual source is a great find as well! Unfortunately this is a side of this history that we don’t discuss enough. Family separation was something that touched almost every enslaved person, causing immense personal trauma. For years after the Civil War, former slaves would post ads in newspapers detailing descriptions of their loved ones in hopes of reconnecting. Many of these were not successful or the news was not good. Thank you for the thoughtful reflections you added to these sources. They have given me a lot to think about.

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