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Preview image of work. albumen silver print on paper,  Sojourner Truth with Flowers, CDV 37781

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Sojourner Truth with Flowers, CDV

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Photographer Unidentified


Sojourner Truth with Flowers, CDV

Creation Date



mid-19th century


4 x 2 1/2 in. (10.16 x 6.35 cm)



Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

albumen silver print on paper

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, James Phinney Baxter Fund


Public Domain

Accession Number


As a Black woman, Sojourner Truth was expected to wait for freedom to come to her—but that was never her style. She refused erasure and fought tirelessly for the rights of Black people and women as she traveled the country as an orator, advocating for both abolition and women’s rights. This carte de visite of Sojourner Truth exemplifies self-representation and agency, a feat that few African Americans achieved during the antebellum period. In this portrait by an unidentified photographer, she addresses the viewer with a steady gaze and confident posture while she knits, an activity associated with genteel society. The photograph makes it clear that Sojourner Truth’s likeness belongs to her alone: each card bears the quote, “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance.” By copyrighting and selling this image, a symbolic representation of her personhood, she supported her abolitionist and suffragist efforts that deeply impacted her lived experience.

Object Description

Per Cowan's Auction on-line description 11/16/2018:
CDV portrait of Sojourner Truth, with imprint below image, "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance/ Sojourner Truth." Text on verso reads, "Entered according to the act of Congress in the year 1864, by Sojourner Truth, in the Clerk's Office, of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Mich." The famed abolitionist and women's rights activist appears seated at a table with flowers, apparently engaged in a knitting project.