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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Cooking Class: c. 1899

Cooking Class: c. 1899

Ten women in a cooking class at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, c. 1899. View full size.

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Not the "Help"?

I don't see any indication that the young women in this picture were being trained as household cooks. The aprons and caps are simply the school uniforms. They are all black because VA schools were segregated at the time.

[The Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, started out as a Negro college. These girls were in the domestic service program, training to be maids, laundresses and housekeepers. Which were the main employment opportunities for black women at the time. - Dave]

How about some perspective

How about some perspective here. These women are barely a generation out of the fields. They are dressed well (for the period) and are being taught a trade that their mothers and grandmothers could only have dreamed about. Being the "help" would seem to be a pretty fair leap from being a slave, given the times. Social change of that magnitude doesn't happen overnight.


Perhaps it's not so gussied-up when you are the "help"

They look so good, though --

They look so good, though -- their aprons are spotless! You can see all the tiny details of lace . . . I could never cook in such beautiful clothes.

Cooking class

Sure glad that I don't have to get gussied up to cook!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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