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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

Benjamin F. Powelson. [Portrait of Harriet Tubman]. [Auburn, New York]: 1868 or 1869. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, and the National Museum of African American History & Culture. (35.00.00)

BENJAMIN F. POWELSON. Harriet Tubman carte-de-visite. 1868 or 1869

Born into slavery in 1822, Harriet Tubman freed herself in 1849 through the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves to escape to free states. Over the next decade, she returned to Maryland to rescue members of her family, and later, enabled around 300 other enslaved people to reach freedom despite the bounty offered for her capture. In 1859, Tubman purchased land and moved to Auburn, New York, then purchased 25 acres adjacent to her property in 1891 to build a retirement home for African Americans. This previously unknown portrait taken when Tubman was 48 or 49 years old, appears in an album assembled by abolitionist, educator, and philanthropist Emily Howland. The album is now jointly owned by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.