SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content

Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Price, Birch & Company: 1865

Price, Birch & Company: 1865

Union Army guard at Price, Birch & Co. slave pen at Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1865. Detail of albumen print. View full size. Photograph by Andrew J. Russell.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Solomon Northrup Was Here

This was the slave dealership Northrup went through in 1841 on his was to New Orleans. At the time, Alexandria City and Alexandria County were still part of the District of Columbia. They were retroceded back to Virginia in 1846. Four years later, the slave trade was abolished in the District of Columbia.


Below is the same view from December of 2010.

Great Intentional Irony

The building still exists with slightly different details (such as the window frames). In a wonderful bit of intentional irony, the building is now the headquarters of the Northern Virginia Urban League. I spoke to a historian about the building to verify that it was indeed the same one as in the photograph and he confirmed that it was. He also said that during renovation, they found iron attachments in the basement that may have been used to anchor shackles.

Birch and Birchett

I am wondering if there is a relationship between the names Birch and Birchett (also Burchett, Burchette and Birchette). I am wondering if the other names evolved from the root name, in some way I do know that Birchetts were large slave holders in St. Petersburg, Virginia.

Price, Birch, and Co. Slave Trading

Do you know the names of the "Price" and "Birch" involved in this? I've seen this before and am a "Birch" myself and wondered about this.

still more info

I accidentally left the address off of that last comment. It's listed as "1315 Duke Street"

Here is the location in google maps. This is only a few miles from where I currently live. Perhaps I'll try to get down there this weekend and shoot some shots of the front of the building as it appears now. If so, I'll post a note and link here.


[Thanks Gary. Here's a satellite view of the address. - Dave]

more info

More info, via:

Franklin and Armfield Office
Click to enlarge

Built in 1812 as a residence for General Andrew Young, this was the office building of the former interstate slave trading complex which stood on the site from 1828 to 1861. By 1835 Franklin and Armfield controlled nearly half the coastal slave trade from Virginia and Maryland to New Orleans. In 1846 the property was sold to a Franklin and Armfield agent, George Kephart, whose business became "the chief slave-dealing firm in [Virginia] and perhaps anywhere along the border between the Free and Slave States." After 1858, the slave pen was known as Price, Birch, and Co., and their sign can be seen in a Civil War era photograph. The business was appalling to many, especially to active abolitionists in Alexandria, where the large Quaker population contributed to a general distaste for slavery. Several abolitionists' accounts survive which describe the slave pen and the conditions encountered therein. Behind the house was a yard containing several structures, surrounded by a high, whitewashed brick wall. Male slaves were located in a yard to the west, while women and children were kept in a yard to the east, separated by a passage and a strong grated door of iron. The complex served as a Civil War prison from 1861 to 1865, and housed the Alexandria Hospital from 1878 to 1885. It was later apartments, and was renovated as offices in 1984.

Slave pen photos

The exterior view is by Andrew J. Russell, who has hundreds of Civil War era photographs in the Library of Congress archives. The interior shots, each half of a stereograph pair, are unattributed but might have been taken by him also. The things on the floor look like watering troughs for horses and may have been stored there by the Union Army.


The slave pen series is fascinating. Have you any idea who took the photos, and why? And, what are the half-barrel-like things lying on their sides in the last image?

SHORPY OLD 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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.