EMOTIONAL PORTRAIT OF A POOR SHARE CROPPER FAMILY IN ALABAMA

share cropper

Once again I could not resist putting a non cabinet card photograph in the Cabinet Card Gallery. I will use the same excuse I always use. This photograph is truly special and I want to share it with the gallery’s visitors and followers. This vintage real photo postcard captures a young family sitting in a field. Capture is definitely the right word. The photographer did an exceptional job of capturing the emotional state of the family members. The mother and father in this image are both quite attractive despite being dressed in their work clothing. Many photographic subjects of this era dressed in their finest clothing when being photographed. There is an implication that this family is a poor family. The words “tenant farmer”and “share cropper” come to mind. Both husband and wife look intensely worried. The wife also looks quite determined. Are they worried about a failed crop? Are they worried about the bank foreclosing on their farm? The older child in this photograph is adorable despite the fact that she is eyeing the photographer with a great deal of suspicion. This postcard was produced by CYKO sometime between 1904 and the 1920’s. The postcard is in good condition (see scan). The postcard was found in Bessemer,Alabama which is about 18 miles southwest of Birmingham. If the photograph was taken in the area of Bessemer, it is interesting to note that truck farming was one of the occupations associated with that town around the time that this postcard portrait was taken.

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Published in: on May 11, 2015 at 9:01 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is indeed a beautiful photograph but I think that rather than showing a “worried” look they might just be trying to look “serious” for the photographer.

  2. I agree with you Ron. These people could quite possibly have been farmers that owned their own land. – I lived in Bessemer, and this was often the case. -Sad to see how the application – and many times, stereotypes of “tenant farmer” or “share cropper” is deemed as some sort of tragic reality. – For some it was truly hardship. – But many of their descendants that I know as friends, felt grateful they could find work, regardless. – Many did not, and suffered without land to work. – I know the descendants of many tenants and sharecroppers. – All of them are successful people professional, and all of them are proud of their heritage, not apologetic at all. – These were hard-working families with great dignity and devotion to life’s duty.

    The young farmer has a handsome intensity and his wife has a serene beauty. Naturally, children shy away from being photographed. – It’s interesting how subjective opinions “color” the way we each interpret images, isn’t it?

    This is an particularly special image because the posers are dressed naturally, without the effort of appearing monied. It is a simple, unaffected portrait. – As per the “emotional state” of the family, naturally, no one can possibly know what it was.

    As usual, Cabinet Card Gallery has gifted us with a wonderful window to the past. – Thank you so much!


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