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American Selfie

Location: Brody Learning Commons
Dates: February 6 to April 6, 2018



Students in Jennifer Kingsley’s Spring 2017 course “Collections Remix” mined archival, literary and cultural collections of the Johns Hopkins University for materials that reflect the experiences of African-Americans. One student team, Monika Borkovic and Lorna Henson, worked with Sheridan Libraries’ African American Real Photo Postcards Collection.

Real photo postcards are photographs printed directly onto postcard stock that spiked in popularity after Kodak released an inexpensive camera in 1903. People kept them as family mementoes, gave them out to friends and relatives, and sent them through the mail with brief messages Рvery much like today’s selfies.

Real photo postcards made it easier for all Americans to document their families and experiences visually, and to share the resulting images widely. For Black Americans, real photo postcards offered a powerful means of fashioning and performing identity within a racist society that denied them full personhood.

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