From Public Relations to Art: Exhibiting Frances Benjamin ]ohnston's Hampton Institute Photographs

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1 From Public Relations to Art: Exhibiting Frances Benjamin ]ohnston's Hampton Institute Photographs Sarah Bassnett Many thanks to Thy Phu, and to other members of the research group who offered helpful feedback on my articie. This article exatnines the circulation of a series of photographs taken by Frances Benjarnin lohnston at the Hampton Normal and Agriculturallnstitute irl Hampton, Virginia, in It looks first at their display in the context of the American Negro Exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900; second, it considers an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1966; and third, it discusses an exhibit at the Williarns College Museum of Art ir.r 2000 in which the Hamptorr photographs rvere paired r.vith work by conten'rporary artist, Carrie Mae Weems. The article analyzes the context and the display techniques of each exhibition in order to show hon, the function of the photographshifted from public relations material to aft. ln tracing this shift, the article demonstrates that the meaning of the photographs is not fixed; rather, it was constituted through different discursive frameworks. Keywords: Frances Benjamin lohnston ( ), Hampton l{ormal and Agricultural Institute, American l{egro Exhibit, Museum of Modern Art, l{ew York, Williams College Museum of Art, racial uplift, vocational education, Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) Frances Benjamin Johnston's photographs of life at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia, taken in 1899, are well known to photographic historians and scholars of American studies. They are striking images, which have sparked a lively academic dialogue. To some scholars, they are important because of their place in Johnston's oeuvre. To others, they are historically significant because of the way they depict African American and Native American subjects. This article considers continuities and changes in the ways these photographs have been interpreted as they circulated in three important exhibitions over the course of the twentieth century. It examines how and why the meanings of the photographs changed, and it considers the impiications of those changes. In particular, I am interested in how the photographs shifted from functioning as public relations material to functioning as art and how this shaped the notions of both photography and race employed in each exhibit. First, I consider the initial display of the photographs at the Paris Exposition of 1900, where they were included in the American Negro Exhibit. Shown as evidence of 'Negro progress', the photographs were understood as records of life at the school and were used to demonstrate to an international, but primarily white European, audience that Historv of Photography, Volume 32, Number 2, Surrner 2008 ISSN ( 2008 lavlor & Francis

2 Frances Benj amin J ohnston's H ampton Institute Phot ographs the US was successfully integrating African Americans into mainstream American culture. Next, I turn to an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) sixty-six years later> where the photographs were seen as innocent portrayals of a bygone era and fine examples of what Director of Photography at MoMA, lohn Szarkowski, had identified as photography's unique power of description. Lastly, I look briefly at The Hampton Project, an exhibition that paired a selection of lohnston's photographs with an installation by contemporary US artist Carrie Mae Weems shown at the Williams College Museum of Art in In this exhibition, Weems appropriated lohnston's photographs in a critical re-examination of the Institute's history. With each display of Johnston's work, the photographs were instated in different discursive frameworks and took on new meaning. There was a shift from the discourse of science, in which the photographs were expected to function as evidence and to demonstrate social progress, to the discourse of art, with the display of the photographs in the context of two art museums. Education for Lrfe 1 Helen Ludlow 'Biographical Note', in Samuel Chapman Armstrong, Education for lf, Hampton: Press of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute 1914, Samuel Chapman Armstrong, General Armstrong's First Anntral Report, 1870, reprinted in Armstrong, Educotion l'or Life, Francis Greenrvood Peabody, 'Introduction', in Arn.lstrong, Eductrtion for Life, 12. and, Peabody, Education for Life: The Story of Hampton Institute, New York: Doubleday 1919, Peabody, Education for Life: The Story of H ampton Institute, Armstrong, Education lbr Life, $ a7. Also see Robert Frarncis Engs, Freedon's Iirst (]eneration: Black Hampton, Virginia, , Philadelphia: Universrty of Pennsylvania Press 1979, The majority of women graduates worked in their own or an emplover's household, and some also taught these skills in vocational training prograrrs. See Peabody, Education for Life: The Story of Hamptort Institute, 375; 377. Johnston's photographs show African American and Native American students engaged in educational activities at Hampton Institute, a school founded in 1868 by Samuei Chapman Armstrong, with the support of the American Missionary Association. Armstrong, a General who commanded a regiment of 'freedmen', former slaves, during the American Civil War, was the son of missionaries, and he believed that education was the key to improving the socalled 'backward races'.1 He envisioned a school where former slaves would be given the opportunity to get an education, although he did not plan a traditional academic curriculum. Rather, he sought to develop a program that was 'at once constructive of mental and moral worth, and destructive of the vices characteristic of the slave'.2 The theologian and professor of social ethics, Francis Peabody, claimed that by recognizing the value of manual labour as a means of simultaneously training the mind and improving character and morality, Armstrong had transformed education. The Hampton curriculum was'education lor life'.r The vocational education offered at Hampton emphasized experiential learning and aimed to educate its students to becone the teachers of the African American community. Johnston's photographs show students engaged in a wide range of educational activities: ever).thing from agricultural tasks, such as butter making and the study of plants, to lessons in geography, arithmetic, and American history (figure 1). At Hampton, the academic subjects were tailored to the trades that were taught in the industrial departments of the school. As Peabody explained, 'the problems of arithmetic are taken from the work of the shop and the farm; the work in English has to do largely with the everyday experiences ofstudents; agriculture and geography are closely connected'.4 According to Armstrong, manual labour established good habits, stimulated the mental faculties, and was the only way to teach morality and Christian values.j The neatly dressed young men depicted in the photographs were being taught the Christian virtue of hard work through trades such as brick-iaying and shoe making, while women learned to cook and sew and to maintain clean and tidy homes, skills they could use as housewives or housekeepers.6 Johnston was commissioned by Hampton's principal, Reverend Hollis Burke Frissell, to photograph life at the school. The resulting photographs were shown at the American Negro Exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900, where they were awarded a Grand Prize, and they also served as promotional material 1s3

3 Sarah Bassnett Figurel. FrancesBenjaminJohnstor1, plantlije.studyingtheseed,platinumprint, l899.librar,vof Congress,h-ashington'DC'LCUSZ623lll4lJ' for the school's fundraising campaign. Because government funding for Southern schools was insufficient, institutions depended on financial support from philanthropists, and illustrated publicitl'material was an effective means of obtaining new sponsors.t In addition, an increase in enrolment and facilities' as well as an expansion of programs at Hampton, made it necessary to secure new donations for the endowment fund.8 By picturing the school's educational mission, ohnston's photographs were an important way of familiarizing an audience of Europeans and Americans with the value of the work done at Hampton. Both at home and abroad, the photographs were an effective form of public relations. Johnston, a white woman from a well-off family, was adept at producing publicity material. She was a successful professional photographer who ran a portrait studio in washington, D.c., where she photographed ceiebrities and politicians, and was well-known for her architectural photography' The Hampton photographs were only one of Johnston's contributions to the Paris E"poritio.t. Prior to her commission at Hampton, lohnston had been hired to produce an extensive series of photographs of Washington D'C' schools demonstrating progressive ideas in US education for the Bureau of Education's exhibit.e In addition, she was the US delegate for photography-related events, and in this capacity she prepared an exhibit on US women photographers for the International Photography Congress.tu Sh. was a shrewd businesswoman and a skilled practitioner with experience conveying educational ideals through her photographs. 7 On the problem of funding for schools see, tbr exermple, 'Education in the South', Nerv lork Times (28 APril 1900), 7. 8 Peabody, Erltrcation t'or Life: The Storl' oj Hanpton lnstitlttc, 242 )'43; 351'l 362' 9- See Bettina Berch, fhe Woman Behind the Lens: Tlrc Lit'e ttnd \\Iork of Frances Benjatnin J ohttstort, I 86'1-1952, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia 2000, 47; and Verna Posever Curtis' 'Frances Ber.riamin Johnston in 1900' r54

4 Frances Benjamin Johnston's Hampton Institute Photographs Staking tl.re Sisterhood's Claim in Arnerican Photographl.', in Bronwyn Griffith, Arrtbassadors of Progress: Anericttn \A,ronrcn Photographers in Paris, 19r.)r,) 190/, Hanover, \H; l onj,)n: \lrrsce J Art A neric.rin Giverny and the Librar,v of Congrcss 2001, 31, for their comparisot.rs of the Har.l.rpton and Wirsl-rington school photogrirphs. \,Vhile Berch and Curtis have argued that tire two school series are quite similar, Laura Wexler has madc a convincing case for their clil'ference. Wexler interprets the stillness of the Hampton intages in contrast to the animated scenes in the Washington school photographs as an indication ofthe tightly controlled lean.rir.rg environment at Hampton. See Wexler, 'Black and White and Color: 'l'he Hatnpton Alltuni. in Tender Violence: Domestlc Visions in an Age oi LIS lntperinlisn4 Chapel Hill; Londol: University of North Carolina Press 2000, t Bcrch, For ntore on lohnston, also see Amv S. I)ohertv, 'Frances Benjamin Johnstor.r ', History of Photography,4 (April 1980), 97-l I l; and Peter Daniel altd Ra)'mond Slr.rock, A lalent for Detnil: The Photographs of Miss Frnnces Benjamin lohnston, , Nerv York: Harmor.ry Books Peabody, 'Hampton and the South', in Education f'or Lile: The Story of I lampton Institute, On the rvav sentimentality and pirtenlirlism functioned as'tencler violence', see Laura Wexler, 'Seeing Sentinent: Photography, llace, and the Innocent Eve', in Tender Violent:e. 12- Wiliiarn H. Baldwin, lr., Presider.rt of the Long lsland Railroad, speaking at a rneeting of the Societv of Ethical Culture in Nerv York, quoted il1 'Future of the Negro', Nen, )'ork Times (9 April 1900), Peabod,v, Educotiott lbr LiJe: The Story of Hampton Itlstitute, 194. On Washington, see Louis I{. Htrrlan, [Jooker T. \\rctshingtott: The Making of a Rlnck Leader, , Nen'York: Oxfirrd Universitv Press 1972, and Booker T. \r{ttshington: The I\/izard ol' Tuskegee, , Nerv York: Oxford University Press l4 - Laura Wexler has argued that the trades taught at liamptor.r rverc already outdated in the increlsinglr. industrialized economy of the late nineteenth ancl early tlventieth centuries and that the activities at the school blatantly ignored the violelce and social strfe, rr.rcluding a dramatic rise in lynching, during and after lhe Reconstruction era. See Wexler, 'Black and White arrci Color: Arnerican Photographs at the Turn of the Century', l5- On the conflict betlveen Booker T. \'Vashington and W. E. B. Du Bois and hou' blacks shoulcl fight fbr equalitv, sce Jacqueline lvf. N{oore, Booker T. Vrashirtgton, \,1. E. B. Itu Bois, nntl thc Sn'uggle for Rttcitl UpliJi, Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc On \'V. E. B. Du Bois, sce Dtrvid Leverit.rg Lelvis, l4/. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, , Neu,York: H. IIolt The question of how - or even if - African Americans should be educated was a controversial matter at the turn of the century. In the South, there was widespread opposition to any'thing that was perceived as upsetting the social hierarchy, and Armstrong was able to obtain support for his educational programme from whites in the South only because of Hampton's emphasis on manual labour.l' Some saw vocational training as appropriate for African Americans because it aimed to produce good workers rather than intellectuals and politicians. One Northerner extolled the benefit of industrial education because it r,vould 'elevate the negro but not unfit him for the only path that was open to him'.12 Booker T. Washington, described as Hampton's 'most distinguished gradllate', was a strong supporter of vocational education and became principal of the Tuskegee Institute, a normal school for African Americans that, like Hampton, taught agriculture and industry rather than providing a liberal arts educarion.r:' Vocational training had its detractors, however.'* A number of educated blacks, including John Hope, the first black president of Atlanta University, and W. E. B. Du Bois, a Harvard-educated sociologist and professor at Atlanta University, became increasingly opposed to the Hampton-Tuskegee educational model. Du Bois argued that in order to achieve equality, blacks had to have access to higher education, and as long as vocational schools competed for funding with black liberal arts coileges by claiming to provide a more appropriate form of education, these schools would be detrimental to the struggle for racial equality.r5 By 1900, the debate over educational programmes for African Americans was becoming part of a larger public discourse on racial uplift and civil rights. Uplift ideology focused on self-help as a way for blacks to gain a 1evel of acceptance within the dominant culture, and African Americans concerned with racial uplift concentrated on achieving respectability through economic success. Although education was a key component of the self-help philosophy of racial uplift, it was vocational training, rather than intellectual development and a university education, which was encouraged. The 'education for life' philosophy of the Hampton Institute and the schooi's emphasis on teaching morality and Christian values were what followers of uplift ideology supported.l6 Two of the most vocal participants in the dispute over education for blacks, Washington and Du Bois, were still on amicable terms in 1900, although they were adopting increasingly different methods in their struggle for racial equality. Washington and his followers emphasized economic success and stressed that blacks should not seek political and social equality. In contrast, Du Bois and others argued that blacks needed political rights in order to advance their situation. In his 1903 book, The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois criticized Washington's accommodationist approach, saying that'mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of adjustment and submission'. His programme focuses on economic development, 'becoming a gospel of Work and X,{oney to such an extent as apparently almost completely to overshadow the higher aims of life. [...] Mr. Washington's programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races'.r7 Despite the difference in approach, education was central to the struggle to improve life for blacks in America. Thus, the vocational education offered at Hampton and depicted in lohnston's photographs was crucial to debates about African American social mobility and civil rights at the turn of the century. The American Negro Exhibit 1900 With the display of lohnston's Hampton photographs as part of the American Negro Exhibit at the Paris Exposition, the issue of African American education was taken to an international audience. The exhibit was organized by Thomas 155

5 Sarah Bassnett Calloway, a young black man, and a graduate of Fisk University' With the support of Booker T. washington and other prominent African Americans, Cuit*uy petitioned the United States Commission to include a Negro exhibit at the Exposition and was appointed 'special agent' of the American Commission.rs The exhibit was intended as a chailenge to negatlve stereotypes of African Americans among Europeans and Americans' As Calloway explained, 'not only will foreigners be impressed, but hundreds of white Americans will be far more convinced by what they see there than what they see, or can see) every day in this country, but fail to give us credit for'.le The American Negro Exhibit included a wide range of material that presented the achievements of African Americans to the Exposition's approximately fifty miliion visitors (figure2;.20 Although Calloway's exhibit was allotted only a small space - tweive-by-twelve feet - it was filied with carefuily prepared displays and won Grand Prize from the Exposition judges' In particuiai, the materials presented in the exhibit showed African American contributions to the success ancl productivity of the nation. In addition to Iohnston's Hampton photographs, which were displayed 'on the moveable Ieaves of a large upright cabinet',21 there were publications by African American authors, including prominent figures such as Frederick Douglass' W' E' B' Du tii:' l,l{ -,r*q. " S.,,w, i.:.,,. : :$,' & ':::'. fl,l ffi& R & g r:::l r:t.j e l6 For a critique ofracial uplift ideology, see Ker.in Gaines, Uplftlng the Ruce: Blttck Leaderslip, Politics, and Ctiture in the Tv,entierh Centtr)l, Chapel H:i11: Universitv of North Carolina Press 1996, \V. E. B. Du Bois, 'Of NIr. Booker T' Washingtor.r and Others', tn The Sotls ol Black FoIk, introduction by Iohn Edgar Wideman, 1903; reprint Nerv York: Vintage Books 1990, Callorval' u'as granted $ of financial backing from Congress for the exhibjt. See Thomas Julius Calloway to Booker T. \{ashington, The Booker T' \\raslurtgton Papers vol 5, ed. T ouis R Harlan, Raymond \{. Smock' and Barbara S. Kraft, Urbana: University of Illinois Press lq7o, 22b: 244. On Africarr American participation at international expositlons, see Shann Michelle Snith, 'Introduction" rn Photography on the Color I ine: \{. E B' DtL Bois, Race, nnd Visttal ()ilture' Durham; London: Duke University Press 2004, 12; ar.rd Robert Rydell, All the \{orld's tt Fair: Visions of Empire at American International F.xpositions, , Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1984, 80-82' 19 Thomas Julius Callor-ay to Booker T' Washington, rn The Bottker T. Washington Papers vol. 5, Attendance figures and the ambitious scale of the exposition are discussed in Richard D. Nlandell, Paris 1900: The Great \{orld's Fair, Torot.tto: University of Toronto Press 1967, xi. On the way racial clifference lvas exhibited at the expositiotl' see leannene M. Przyblyski, 'Ametrcan Visions at the Parjs Exposition, 1900: Arrother look lt Frlnce' Bcnjrmin ]ohnston's Hampton Photographs" in Art Journal5T:3 (1998), On French and American constructions of racial identity in relation to the Americtrn Negro Exhibit, see Przyblvski's 'Visions of Race and Nation at the Paris Exposition, 1900: A French Context for the American Negro Exhibit', in Nntional $iercot.i,p.s in Pt rsp clivc: Anrcricans in France, Frenchmen in Amertca, ed. William L. Chew, Atlanta: Rodopi 2001' Lincoln Kirstein, The Hampton Albun, Nerv York: The Museum of Modern Art 1966,55. Figure 2. Photographer unknown, Erhlbit oj' the Arnerican Negroes al thc Paris Expositiott, Library of Congress' LC-US Photograph published in The American monthly review of reviews 2):130 (November 1900),

6 Frances Beniamin lohnston's Hampton InstittLte Photographs 22- 'Negroes as Authors', Washingtort PLtst (22 Januarv 1900), Thomas Callorval, 'The Negro Exhibit', quoted in Deborah \\rillis,'the Sociologist's Eye: \V. E. Il. Du Bois ancl the Paris Exposition', tn A Snnll Nation of People: \\r. E. B. Du Bois nnd Afi'ican Anterican Portraits ttl Progress, Nerv York: Amistad and Library of Congress 2003, 73. 2'1 \\tilcox,'the Paris Exhibit', SorLtherrt Workrnan (1900), 9. Quotcd in lar.nes (luimond,'frances Johnston's Hatnptoll Album: A \\rhite Dream for Black People', American Photogrttplty ond the Anrcrican Drettnt, ('.hapelr Hill; Lor.rdon: Universin. of North Carolina Press 1991,41. David Levering Len'is has noted that althougl-r the American Negro exhibit l'irs discussed rvidely in black nervspapers, it rvas hardl,v mentioned in the mainstrcanr press. Sec Lenis,'A Small Nation of People: \V. E. B. Du tsois and Blacl< Americans at the 'furn of the Centurv', A Stnall Nation of People, Daniel T. Roclgers,'Paris 1900', in Atlantic Crossings: Socittl Politics in n Progressive Age, Cambriclge and London: Tlrc Belknrrp Pre" ef ;13n1'6 t nirer'ilr Press 1998, Smith, Pltotography on tlrc Cokn Line, 14; 20; and Przl.biyski, 'American\risions at the Paris Exposition, I900: Another Look at l'rances Benjamin Johnston's Hampton Photographs', in Art lourual,68. Also see Przyblyski's 'Visions of Race ancl Nation at the Paris Erposition, 1900: A l-rench Context for the Anierican Negro Exhibrt', in Nationol Stereotypes in Perspective, ).16. Bois, and Booker T. r,arirshington.zr Photographs of African American o\,vned businesses, including pharmacies, ne\\rspapers, jer,vellery stores, and laundries, showed competence and industriousness (figure 3). Photographs of 'fine houses occupied by negroes' demonstrated economic achievement, while photographs, statistics, and examples of student work from black universities and industrial institutes illustrated the benefits of educatiou.r' An article in the Southern Workman, the Hampton Institute's official magazine, explained that the exhibit was intended to give 'the rrations of Europe 1...] an opportunity to judge of the progress of the colored race since emancipation. An effort will be made to sho\,v the world that the Negro is "a producer, a progressive element in the population of the United States, and a citizen becoming more and more lawabiding as educational advantages and religious agencies become more universal"'.2n The di rerse array of visual, statistical, scientific, and artistic material Calloway had gathered wzrs intended to provide evidence of the accomplishments of African Americans to exhibition visitors. Calloway's exhibit was located in the social economy building, rather than with the country's main exhibit in the US nationai pavilion. While the national pavilions represented the aspirations and achievements of each country, the social economy exhibits were brought together in a shared building to address contemporary social problems. Described by historian Daniel Rodgers as 'the ambulance wagon of industrial capitalism', social economy dealt with such issues as poverty, poor living conditions, and ill health, and it was in this section of the exposition that each nation presented its proposals for social betterment. The US was allocated a smail space of only twenq/-seven square feet, and along with Calloway's American Negro Exhibit, the New York Tenement House Committee addressed the issue of slum housing, and the League for Social Service demonstrated hor,r, private companies could take care of their employees through irritiatives such as company housing.2t As other scholars have noted, within this context, the American Negro Exhibit was offered as a solution to a social problem - ir-r this case, America's so-called 'Negro problem'.26 Presented in relation to other social betterment missions, Callorvay's exhibit would have made it clear that economic advancernent was a key cornponent of African American progress. 1,,.,,,,., l,':r:':'l r..:':l I.r,,.:..::.L:. Figure 3. Photographer unknou'n, E. /. Crane, watchmaker and jewellery store, Richmond, Virginia, photographic print, ca Librar,v of Congress, Washington, DC, LC USZ

7 Sarah Bassnett While the issue of how African Americans should be educated was a point of debate in the struggle for racial uplift, the question was not taken up in Calloway's American Negro Exhibit. Rather, the exhibit presented a unified view of African American progress, which included materiai representing both vocational and classical models of education. Literary texts and scenes of school life at African American universities were shown together with )ohnston's Hampton photographs and samples of industrial and agricultural products from the Harnpton and Tuskegee Institutes.2t With his goal of impressing an international audience, it is reasonable that Calloway's exhibit did not draw attention to differences of opinion within the African American community, but instead focused on conveying a non-threatening notion of racial uplift. Like much of the other material in the American Negro Exhibit, Johnston's Hampton photographs illustrated racial uplift ideology. The images did not explicitly challenge the commoniy held racist view that blacks were inferior to whites but were nonetheless capable of becoming integrated into mainstream white American society (if they were taught middle-class morals and values through vocational training). The accommodationist position is particularly evident in several of the Hampton photographs, which depict before and after views that claim to show the results of an education at the Hampton Institute (figuresa,5). The contrast between the rudimentary cabin and the respectable middie-class home, for example, would have made a powerful visual argument for the benefits of a Hampton education. The orderly scene of a white clapboard house and two girls in white pinafores with their bicycles on the lawn is a triumphant assertion of the possibility for African Americans to achieve a higher social class. The focus on economic success is characteristic of racial uplift ideology, and in an exhibit filled with material demonstrations of 'Negro progress', Iohnston's photographs functioned as evidence of the benefits of the vocational education offered at Hampton Institute. No doubt it is partly because of their non-threatening vision that these photographs were an effective means of public relations and won acclaim at the Exposition. In contrast to the Hampton photographs, some scholars have argued that Du Bois's display on the Georgia Negro, which was also part of Calloway's exhibit, explicitly confronted the notion that blacks were an inferior race. Shawn Michelle Smith and Deborah Willis have both maintained that the photographs in Du Bois's exhibit challenged biological racism and the racist taxonomy of nineteenth-century scientific photography that supported it by offering competing visual evidence. Smith has argued that by using the visual codes of scientific photography, an extensive series of portraits of African American men, women, and children contested narrow conceptions of what blackness looked like. She makes the case that photographs of a diverse range of African Americans, including some who looked white, undermined viewers' expectations that race was visually evident and defied attempts at classifring distinct biological t1pes.28 Smith's argument is supported by Du Bois's description of his exhibit: 'There are several volurnes of photographs of tlpical Negro faces, which hardly square with conventional American ideas'.2t In a similar manner, Willis has argued that the fine clothing and jewellery on the subjects, and photographs sl-rowing the tidy, respectable exteriors and interiors of African-American homes, revealed how progressive blacks were. She explains that, because of this, the display can be seen as having replaced negative stereot)?es with positive portraits of a new African-American identity.3o Both Smith and Willis make compelling arguments: the photographs that Du Bois presented do seem to have challenged the basis of biological racism. However, to contemporary viewers, the elegant portraits of well-dressed African Americans and the photographs of successful black-owned businesses would 27- Robert Rydell, "'Gatervay to the American Century": The Arnerrcan Representation at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900', in Paris 1900 Tht 'American School' at the Universal Exposition, ed. Diane P. Fischer, New Brunsn'ick, Nl: Rutgers University Press 1999, ; and Smith, l Smith, 'The Art of Scientific Propaganda', n Photogr(rylql on the Color Line, 46-57; Du l3ois, quotecl ir.r Ljncla Berrrett Osborne, 'Introduction', in A Sntall Nation of People, WilLis, 'The Sociologist's Eyc: \\t. E. B. Du Bois and the Paris Exposition', in A Srnoll Nntiott o.f People, For nlore on the historical context for Du Bois's Georgia exhibit, see Dervid Levering Lervis, 'A Small Nation of People: \{. E. ts. Du Bois and Blrrl Arncricans.rt. thc Turrr of rlre ( cnlur)' in the sane publication, 23-4>. 15u

8 Frances Benjamin lohnston's Hamptotl Institute Photographs Figure 4. Frances Benjamin.fohnston, O/d Time Cabin. platinum print, Librarv of Congress, \Vashir.rgton, DC, LC-USZ have also demonstrated that at least some blacks had achieved rniddle-class respectability. Although Du Bois's presentation may have been more confrontational than much of the other material in the exhibit, it still replaced the concept of blacks as an inferior race with a version of uplift ideology. Finally, in considering what Johnston's Hampton photographs conveyed in the context in which they were first exhibited, it is usefui to consider what the American Negro Exhibit does not show. In focusing on racial uplift, Calloway excluded images that would have been truly challenging to an audience of white Europeans and Americans. Photographs of the racial violence and discrimination that hindered African Americans (particularly in the South) from attaining the trappings of a middle-class lifestyle, let alone social and political equality, n a IL Figure 5. Frances Benjarnin ohnston, l l,t u1ptttt Gt oj uttc's Horrc. 1'111in11111 arlnt, Librarl' of Congress, \\rashington, DCl, LC USZ

9 Sarah Bassnett r,vould have disrupted the vision of racial uplift that the Hampton photographs and other exhibit materials presented. As part of Calloway's exhibit, Johnston's photographs were shown as documents of life at the school and were one component of a public relations display aimed at presenting a positive vision of African American life in the US. Within this context, the photographs supported the notion that a vocational education is what had made a difference in lives of African Americans. Neither the Hampton photographs nor the exhibit as a whole gave any indication that, with segregation and the threat of lynching and rape, it was only against great odds that African Americans were able to improve their living standards. The Museum of Modern Art 1966 Following the Paris Exposition, the American Negro Exhibit, including the Hampton photographs, was exhibited at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 and at the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in 190i Johnston's photographs were also shown in a series of illustrated lectures in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. During the same period, they were reproduced in several photo-essays in the mainstream press, as well as in the Hampton publication, the Southern Workman.32 Further circulation ceased in the early years of the 1900s, but the photographs resurfaced in f anuary 1966, when a selection of forty-four images was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art's Edward Steichen Photography Center' The exhibit was overseen by fohn Szarkowski, Director of the Department of Photography, but it was initiated by a donation from Lincoln Kirstein, General Director of the New York City Ballet, a supporter of the arts and occasional guest curator at MoMA. Kirstein had come across an album of 159 of Johnston's Hampton photographs in a second-hand bookshop in Washington' D.C. twenty years earlier and had offered it to the Museum'" Kirstein worked with Szarkowski and MoMA's Curator of Photography, Grace Meyer, as they organized an exhibition of some of the photographs, and it was he who wrote the catalogue essay. In it, Kirstein praised ohnston's skill as a photographer and romanticized the notion of 'Negro progress' depicted in the fhotographs. He wrote: 'It is a measure of Miss Johnston's vision that she enables us to spy upon so many anonymous, long-vanished individuais, who still so vividly speak to us in public of their private longings for a shared social paradise'.3a It was the apparent idealism of the African Americans and Native Americans depicted in the photographs that captured Kirstein's imagination' For Kirstein, the photographs were records of the hopes and dreams of Hampton students, and he implied that Johnston's technical and artistic ability was what made the photographs so impressive and poignant sixty-seven years later. He wrote: 'she did capture, to an almost magical degree,-the better part of an historic aspiration in its innocent and necessary striving''" For the most part, reviews of the exhibition and the accompanying publication followed the tone of Kirstein's introductory essay. Numerous autho.s relied on his introduction and MoMA's press release to describe the work, which was commonly discussed for both its aesthetic and historical value. One reviewer, commenting on fohnston's style, declared: 'These photographs, without the purposeful ease of their inhabitants and the technical excellence of their tonal reproduction, would strain the attention of the contemporary viewer with his taste for the candid'.3u At o.tce affirming the quality of the work and suggesting Iohnston's approach was outdated, this author saw that the photographs aimed to convey a sense of the school's educational ideals rather ihan to merely record activities. Another reviewer, Hennig Cohen, a professor of history and English at the University of Pennsylvania and a founder of the l1- Smith, Przyblyski, 'American Visions at the Paris Exposition, 1900', ]ohn Szarkorvski, Press Release for T/re Hamptln Album, Curarorial Exhibition Files, Exh. j1787. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. 34- Kirstein, 11. On the HamPton photographs at MoMA, see Judith Fryer Davidov,'Containment and Excess: Representing African Americans', in Women's Camera Work: Self / Body / Other in American Visual Culture, Durham: Duke Unir.ersity Press 1998, 183. Davidov's assessment is that the photographs record the process of colonization and would have had the status of'trophies of imperial conquest'. 35- Kirstein, Books in Review, The Hampton Album, Photo Methods t'or Industry, New York, October Department of Public Information Records, II.A 153. MoMA Archives, NY. 160

10 Frances Benj amin J ohnston's H ampton Instit ut e Ph ot o graplr J7. Hennig Lohen, 'The lnnocent Lye'. irr The Reporter 34 (10 March 1966),47, Hampton became a four-year college in lq30 and a university in New York Times Book Review (4 November 1966). Department of Public Information Records, II.A.153. MoMA Archives, NY. 40- Alexander C. Brown, 'The Hampton Album', The Daily Press, Newport News, Hampton, Virginia, (13 March 1966). Frances Benjamin Johnston bio file. MoMA Library, NY. 41- 'A Mystical Vision of Reading and Writing', The News Magazine, New Mexico (15 May 1966). Department of Public Information Records, II.A.153. MoMA Archives, NY Department of Circulating Exhibitions, IL MoMA Archives. NY. 43 Letter from Edward K. Graham, Office of Institutional Research, Hampton Institute, to lohn Szarkowski, 24 March Curatorial Exhibition Files, Exh. f787. MoMA Archives, NY Letter from Marie Frost, Department of Circulating Exhibitions, MoMA, to John Szarkow'ki, 2 April Registrar Exhibition Files, Exh. f787. MoMA Archives, NY. American Studies movement, described the photographs as showing 'how Hampton offered a path to felicity through cleanliness, docility, and steady application'. He exclaimed, 'They fthe photographs] radiate such innocence and good hope that they make me want to cry'.37 Like Kirstein, Cohen responded to the dated vision of progress and racial uplift he perceived in the photographs, and he too seemed to attribute the idealism to the subjects of the images. The photographs were considered significant by these reviewers precisely because the 'Victorian' style of Johnston's photographs seemed to complement the similarly out-of-date ideal of social progress taught at the Hampton Institute at the turn of the century.3s A few reviewers reacted to the sentimentalism of the photographs, suggesting that views of African American and Native American integration and race relations had changed significantly since Johnston produced the work. A short piece on the exhibition catalogue in the New York Times Book Review called The Hampton Album 'a remarkable piece of precious, nostalgic propaganda'. It went on to explain, 'with every Hampton Institute student scrubbed, dressed and dreamily posed, fthe photographs] are a fascinating, campy comment on how one well-intentioned group tried to improve the lot of the freed Negro and the American Indian'.3e This reviewer saw the works as a dramatic commentary on the naive ideals of the Hampton educational programme, rather than as documents of a more innocent time. Another piece, in a Hampton newspaper, praised the publication while noting that the impression it conveyed might be perceived as old-fashioned. It described the photographs as carefully posed and imparting 'a tranquil dignity to study and labor at the Hampton Institute'. The author noted that 'although impetuous integrationists today might reject the book as being too "Uncle Tom", here is indeed a fine record of the coming of age of Hampton Institute'.4o Another article on the publication observed that it was 'of particular interest today in view of the Civil Rights movement'.4t In 1966, the struggle for civil rights was becoming increasingly radicalized, as many of the activists who became disillusioned with the failure to improve conditions through non-violent and Iegal means turned to Black Nationalism. Some reviewers were interested in the MoMA exhibit precisely because, within this context, the vision of progress depicted in ohnston's photographs seemed to provide insight into a notion of social progress that was no longer generally accepted. Curiosity about turn-of-the-century ideas of race relations also played an important role in the circulation of MoMA's Hampton Album exhibition, which travelled to eleven locations between July 1966 and December It was mainly shown at university and college art museums, including Cornell, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Texas, Long Island University, the Hampton Institute, the University of Manitoba, Oberlin College, and the University of British Columbia.a2 The exhibit may have appealed to university museums because of the educational theme of the photographs, although there were likely other practical considerations, such as the modest scale of the show and the reasonable rental fee. In the context of the Hampton Institute's museum, the exhibit was seen as elucidating the institution's history, and both the exhibit and the publication were received with warmth and enthusiasm.a3 The curator at the University of British Columbia's gallery, on the other hand, was interested in the exhibit for its nostalgic quality.44 In this case, Kirstein's passionate description of the sentimental quality of the photographs had evidently attracted attention. The exhibition's focus on education, its historical value, and its romanticized vision of the past were all important features in appealing to curators in museums throughout the US and Canada. However, the exhibit's charm also depended 161

11 Sarah Bassnett upon curators overlooking the contentious quality of the vision of racial up1ift the photographs conveyed. Even in 1899, when the photographs were taken, the moderate, accommodationist ideoiogy of racial uplift espoused by Washington and others and portrayed in ohnston's photographs was being contested by a more militant, revolutionary one, which demanded equality for African Americans. And at the time of the MoMA exhibit, many of the ideas that Du Bois and others had expressed at the turn of the twentieth century - regarding political rights, an end to segregation, and access to higher education for African Americans - were commonly held views and keystones of the Civil Rights movement. In contrast to the political activism of the 1960s, the Hampton educational philosophy, illustrated in Johnston's Hampton photographs, appeared quaint and outdated. The MoMA exhibit, like the American Negro Exhibit, did not acknowledge the contentious nature of racial uplift. Certainly to Kirstein and many of the reviewers, the photographs appeared to represent the African American ideal of progress. Only a few of the reviewers responding to the catalogue noted that the photographs seemed to promote a particular educational philosophy. Kirstein and others involved with the MoMA exhibit were interested in Johnston's photographs as illustrations of an historical ideal, which made it possible to aestheticize them. The images could be called on to speak in a different discursive framework for a different purpose. What was once public relations material came to be seen as art. In the museun's Photography Department under Director John Szarkowski, the descriptive power of photography and the formal qualities of photographs were highly vaiued. I(irstein used evocative language such as 'luminous' and 'majestic' and described the photographs by saying: 'A11 her forms are clearly delineated in their air, separated with a defining discreteness, giving full value to their descriptive silhouettes'.4' In the context of the modern art museum, fohnston's photographs could function as proto-modernist examples of Szarkowski's lormalist theory of photography. "' The display techniques used in the MoMA exhibition were characteristic of the modernist aesthetic that was predominant in the Department of Photography at the time. Installation views of the exhibit show the stark white walls that are typical of the modern museum (figures6,7). Hung at eye level around the gallery, the platinum prints were shown with white mattes and simple, uniform frames. There was little to distract from a formal appreciation of the images. Only a title poster, I(rstein's introductory text, and title labels served as supplements to the photographs. By placing the emphasis on the pictures themselves, viewers were encouraged to consider the formal and technical qualities of the work. The subtle tot-res that are a distinguishing feature of platinum prints stood out against the white mats, and the uniform lighting in the gallery illuminated the delicately-lit figures in lohnston's photographs. The meticulous presentation of the photographs offered each crisp image as a distinct, masterful work of art. At the same time, by hanging the photographs closely together in sequences, the exhibit conveyed a narrative of life at the Hampton Institute.4' Szarkowski had described Johnston as a documentary photographer whose approach was 'firmly in the newspaper tradition',*6 and the narrative mode of display respected the journalistic quality of Johnston's work. The two photographs that follow Kirstein's foreword introduce the location of Hampton, as well as four hundred students, shown gathered in the school chapel. These images are the largest in size, at eighteen by twenty-two inches, and they provide the context for the other pictures. They are followed by eight,15 Kirstein, Szarkorvski outlined his forrnalist approach to photography in Tfoe Pltotographer's Eye, Nerv York: Museutl of Modern Art Szarkowski referred to the H,rmptorr 1'lroLogr.tph' tt de'.ribirrg historical reality. John Szarkorvski, 'Acknorvledgments', The Hafipton Albun The photographs were not hung in the order they appear in the catalogue. Lartra \{exler has pointed out that the order ofthe irnages in the MoMA cataloguc conveys the 'lvhere, lvhat and when' of Hampton and is a narrative of 'black histor,v as progress initiated b1' the action of the Hampton Ir.rstitute'. Wexler, in 'lender Violence, John Szarrkorvski, Press Release, 14 I)ecember Registrar Exhibition Files, Exh. f787. NIoNIA Archives, NY. r62

12 Frances Benjamin Johnston's Hampton Institute Photographs a ffi & gil*,,,, ititied,:iqi& w,*s Figure 6. Rolf Peterser.r, Installation view of The Hampton Album: 11 Janutrrv - 10 April The N'luseum of Modern Art, New Yorl<, photographic print, MoMA Archives, NY. Exhibition f 7tt7, image Digital hnage 1' MoMA, Nen,York. 19 Kirstein, See Laura \{exler's analysis of the effect of these trvo photographs in the exhibition catalogue. Werler, 'Black ancl \{hite and Color: The Hompton Albuni, 17I-176. photographs: two portraits of Native American students, who are identified as Adele Quinney and John Wizi; two sets of before and after comparisons: the old-time cabin and a Hampton graduate's home (figures4, 5), followed by the old well and the improved well; and two scenes of students from the Whittier primary school at Hampton: saluting the flag and washir-rg and ironing. This set of photographs introduces individual students, demonstrates the benefits of a Hampton education, and depicts activities in the children's school. While these photographs were presented as historically interesting for what they seem to reveal about life at Hampton Institute at the turn of the century, the arrangement of the images also drew attention to the formal qualities of the photographs. Because Native American students were the minority at Hampton (in 1899, 135 out of 1000 students), the two students depicted in the portraits were not representative of the school's population. These are the only two portraits in the exhibition, and the reason for their inclusion is suggested in the descriptive caption below the photograph of Adele Quinney: 'a girl whose every physical measurement is artistically correct'.ao Th... photographs, like the sitters, are aesthetically pleasing.i0 In the original Hampton Album, the photographs were arranged by subject - history, physiology, arithmetic, geography agriculture, etc. The MoMA exhibit loosely borrowed the order of arrangement from the album, but since only a selection of the 159 photographs was shown, the effect was rather different. There were gaps in the historical narrative, which resulted in a focus on aesthetics. In the original album, the photographs of Adele Quinney and John Wizi followed photographs of Native Americans before a Hampton education, and they, in turn, were followed by photographs of 'old tipi life among the Sioux'; 'present cabin life among the Sioux'; and 'farms and homes of Hampton Students. Indian'. This context of Native Americans before and after a Hampton education was lost in the exhibit because, in the MoMA 163

13 Sarah Bassnett w,wwdk e&wwe$i ffiww FigureT. Rolf Petersen, Installationvieu'of TheHarnptonAlbum: lllanuarry-10april lg66.themuseumofmodernart,nen'york'photographic print. MoNIA Archives, NY. Exhibition f 787, image I159. Digital Image.t'l 2007 MoMA' Nerv York. display, the before and after views that followed the two portraits depicted African American subjects. Throughout the MoMA exhibit, photographs of different lessons were shown together, which at once presented a less comprehensive view of the educational program and emphasized the aesthetic quality of the images. In another sequence in the MoMA exhibit (figure7), 'Agriculture. Mixing Fertilizer' was next to 'Arithmetic. Lesson under a Student Mason', followed by'stairway of Treasurer's Residence' (figure8, third from left in figure7), 'Agriculture. Plant Life. Study of Plants or a "Plant Society"', and 'Agriculture. A Class Judging Swine'. In the original Hampton Album, the agriculture subjects were not only shown next to other photographs of lessons in agriculture, they were next to photographs of similar aspects of agriculture: photographs relating to the study of piants were grouped together, while photographs of agricultural production and animal husbandry were with other like subjects. The photograph of students constructing the stairway in the treasurer's residence was placed after an image of the treasurer's residence building and within a sequence of photographs on the trade school, showing such subjects as the carpenter's shop, brick-laying, and the blacksmith shop. Instead of primarily making connections between the subject matter of adjacent images, as one would with the original Hampton Album, the viewer of the MoMA exhibit was led to focus on formal elements of the photographs. Consider how the spare, modernist mode of display of the MoMA exhibition compares to the design of the American Negro Exhibit. In the American Negro Exhibit, fohnston's photographs were shown in a narrative format, although they were part of a dense but meticulous display of other graphically appealing exhibit materials. Calloway's exhibit provided a multiplicity of resources against which the Hampton photographs could be interpreted. The exhibit used photographs as documents, which aimed to convince viewers of the civility and intelligence of African Americans: above all, it aimed to inform and persuade. As Calloway had made clear, the main idea of the display was to provide evidence of the cultural 164

14 Frances Benjamin lohnston's Hampton Institute Photographs 51 Letter from lohn Szarkou'ski to Monroe Wheeler, undated. Curatorial Exhibition File, Exh. f787. MoMA Archives, NY. 52. Letter from John Szarkowski to Monroe Wheeler, undated. Curatorial Exhibition File, Exh. f787. MoMA Arcl.rives, NY. 53- Letter from I-incoln Kirstein to John Szarkorvski, 5 October Curatorial Exhibition File, Exh. f787. lvloma Archives, NY. 54 Kirstein, 5. achievements of African Americans and to challenge negative stereotypes. In contrast, the MoMA exhibit presented the photographs as unique works of art. Whereas the museum exhibit used the discourse of art, Calloway relied on the discourse of science. The focus of the MoMA exhibit was the descriptive power of the photographs rather than the historical moment of 1899, which the images were thought to reveal. The MoMA exhibit emphasized the photographs themselves, rather than exploring the complexity of the historical moment they depicted. This emphasis became a point of debate during the exhibit's preparation. While Kirstein was commissioned to write the introductory text, Szarkowski and others weighed in on how the work should be discussed in the essay. Kirstein initially planned to open his piece with a history of the Institute, foliowed by an account of Iohnston's work, and finally a discussion of the photographs. Szarkowski suggested that the history of the school would be more appropriate as a 'historical footnote' and that the emphasis should be on the discussion of the pictures themselves, with the photographer of secondary interest.sl He expiained: 'I think the last pages fon the photographs] are excellent, and the strongest part of the essay. Possibly this section should come first, so that the reader is informed at the outset of the nature of our interest'.s2 Kirstein responded to the suggestion by agreeing that the last part was the strongest, but he maintained that it should be 'the final impression'.s3 Ultimately, the catalogue began with a history of Hampton Institute, followed by a discussion of the photographs. The text on the photographer was at the end, after the photographs. Despite the way the catalogue was organized, it is clear from their discussion that both men agreed it was the quality of the photographs, rather than the historical context or the photographer, which was of primary importance. The aesthetic value of the photographs was emphasized in the exhibition catalogue and throughout the publicity material for the MoMA exhibition. In his essay, Kirstein acknowledged that the photographs likely had significant social and historical vaiue, yet he indicated that the catalogue focused on the exquisite formal quality of the images. He praised Johnston's 'visual capacity' and her technical abilities, describing the photographs as 'amazingly evocative'.54 The images in the exhibition catalogue were reproduced using Figr-rre 8. Frances Benjamin lohnston, Stairutny of Trensurer's Residence, platinurn print, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, LCI USZC,I

15 Sarah Bassnett the photogravure process in order to 'best preserve Ithe] aesthetic values'ofthe original platinum prints, which were described as very rich and detailed.ss Szarkowski was concerned with maintaining the subtle tonality and contrast of the original photographs, because he felt these were a distinguishing quality of ohnston's photographs. By focusing on the formal features of the photographs, this exhibit portrayed turn-of-the-century race relations as quaint and idealistic. 55- 'Books in the Making. Photogravure Used for MOMA PhotographY Books', Publisher's Weekly, 189:14 (4 April 1966). Department of Public Information Records, II.A.153. MoMA Archives, NY. Williams College Museum of Art 2000 While the controversial nature of racial uplift ideology was not apparent in the American Negro Exhibit or in the MoMA exhibition, Carrie Mae Weems addressed the issue in her installation work, The Hampton Project, first shown at Williams College Museum of Art in 2000 (figure9).'" The exhibition included a selection of twenty-five of Iohnston's photographs and an installation by Weems, which responded to both the photographs and to Hampton Institute, the educational institution. By juxtaposing the work of two women who 'countered the misrepresentation of black people as seen in the popular media of their time',s7 the exhibit aimed to provoke a re-evaluation of a controversial history. In the Williams College Museum exhibit, large muslin banners and stretche<l canvas printed with digitized versions of appropriated images and Weems's own photographs were accompanied by an audio track, which worked together to tell an alternative history of African American and Native American assimilation. This was an art instaiiation with a political impetus. It considered the impact of a vocational education within the broad historical context of racial discrimination. The appropriated images, selected from the archives of Hampton University and Williams College, as well as from among Johnston's Hampton photographs, included portraits of Hampton graduates and photographs by members of Hampton's Kiquotan Kamera Klub.s8 Using the semi-transparent quality of the banners hung within the central gallery space, and the juxtaposition of contemporary and historical photographs, Weems created a non-linear narrative, which brought to light suppressed aspects of African American and Native American history. Associate curator of the museum and project manager for The Hampton Project, Vivian Patterson, described Weems's contribution to the exhibit as a 'very personal response to the philosophy of Hampton's visionary founder and to historic and contemporary intersections of race, education, and the democratic ideal'.se By appropriating images and by juxtaposing the Hampton photographs with other historical images, Weems highlighted the promotional character of Johnston's photographs. The quiet beauty and stillness of Johnston's photograph of Hampton students in the library was disrupted when viewed with photographs of violence against African Americans such as Civil Rights Encounter (Hosing) (2000). Weems's juxtapositions reveal the failure of raciai uplift ideology and the persistence of a culture of brutality against African Americans and Native Americans. Her counter narrative emphasized the controversial nature of the educational philosophy that is iliustrated in f ohnston's photographs.no Conclusion Each exhibition of Johnston's Hampton photographs focused on a different concept of photography to produce a different view of the Hampton education they portrayed. In 1900, the photographs were displayed as evidence, and they functioned as an important component of an exhibit that aimed to persuade its 56 The exhibition trar.elled to the International Center of Photography in Nerv York; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; The University Museum, California State Long Beachi The Nelson- Atkins N{useum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; ar.rd The Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was re-installed at Williams College Museun of Art in Exhibitionprospectus,Williams College Museum of Art. Frances Benjamin Johnston bio {ile. MoMA Library, NY. 58 Vivian Patterson, 'The HamPton Project', in Carrie Mle \\reems: The Hntnpton Project, New York: Aperture 2000, Patterson, The Hampton Universitl Museum was initially involved in the project; however, they withdrew their support once they understood the nalure of Weems's critique. See ]eanne Zeidler, 'A Vierv From Hampton University Museum', in Cnrrie Mae Weems: The Httmptort Project, t66

16 Frances Benjamin Johnstoris Hampton Institute Photographs Figure 9. Arthur Evans, Installation detail, Carrie Mae Weems, The Htnpton Project,2000. Williams College iv{useum of Art. Digital photographs: 6 ink on canvas and 20 ink on muslin banners, audio. Williams College Museum of Art M A-2. Courtesy of Carrie Mae Weents. t67

17 Sarah Bassnett I viewers that the US was a progressive nation and that, with the right kind of education, African Americans and Native Americans could become good middle-class citizens. In 1966, Johnston's photographs were valued for their aesthetic qualities and for the romanticized concept of racial harmony they conveyed. In the MoMA exhibition, Kirstein and others accepted the photographs as documents of a naive historical past rather than as public relations material that used sentiment to achieve other goals. In 2000, Weems drew attention to the constructed nature of photography and responded to Johnston's photographs by critiquing the role of education generally, and a Hampton education specifically, in turn-of-the-century attempts to assimilate African Americans and Native Americans. By examining the circulation of these photographs across the span of a century, it becomes evident that context and display techniques have affected the way they have been understood and that the photographs were used to support different visions of American race relations. And yet, there is also continuity in the way these photographs have been interpreted. There is something particularly engaging about the way Johnston depicted the Hampton students in 1899 that has made the photographs remain fascinating to a variety of audiences over the course of the twentieth century. 168

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