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Aunt Charlotte: 1900

Aunt Charlotte: 1900

Circa 1900. Somewhere in the Eastern U.S. "Aunt Charlotte." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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Jaime Vue?

Does anyone know her true calling, other than posing for postcards?

Our newest national monument

Reuters - November 1, 2011 - President Barack Obama created the first national monument of his presidency on Tuesday, signing a proclamation to preserve a former Army fort that was a safe haven for slaves during the Civil War...

...In 1861, three escaped slaves were given safe haven at the fort that managed to stay under Union control despite being in a Confederate state. They were declared by Union Major General Benjamin Butler as "contrabands of war" and were not returned to their owner.

According to the Fort Monroe Authority, 10,000 slaves subsequently fled there and were given protection, helping prompt President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves free in the states rebelling against the federal government...

Wide open

I often think of how wide open (i.e., agricultural) the landscape was in those days. While this picture feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, it could perhaps be from the outskirts of some major city. Either way, the world must have seemed much larger then.


I knew it might take a while, but I knew that eventually someone would answer my question! Well Done! The power of Shorpy.

Found her!

Fort Monroe, Virginia. Auntie C. seems to have been something of a postcard celebrity.

Old Ways Die Hard

It had to be in the late 1960s or early 1970s. My granddad, a lifetime Angeleño, asked me to hand his gas money to "that colored boy over there."

I saw a middle-aged man & was temporarily perplexed by hearing him called "boy."

Remember, this was LA in the days of Shaft & Mod Squad.

Officer housing at Fort Monroe

There is a brick building very much like the structure here across the moat from Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Mighty puny

That ox doesn't look well at all. His eyes are shut, and his hindquarters are a rack of bones. His back is humped up, and he's standing with his back knees propped against each other. He looks like he could fall over at any minute, poor old critter.

Fort Monroe, Hampton Virginia

Aunt Charlotte Fort Monroe
From the book Views of Fortress Monroe and Vicinity, published 1892.

A modern day photo of the fort shows the wall and moat still intact.

I'd love to know her story.

She is old enough to have been born before the Civil War. She might have traveled North on the Underground Railroad...or this might actually be the South Eastern USA. Either way, she lived through a momentous time.

"Aunt" Charlotte

A reminder of a time when black people over a certain age were commonly called "Aunt" or "Uncle." A practice whose legacy can still be seen at the supermarket, in brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's.

Which might seem quaint or endearing, but if you weren't old enough to be an Aunt or Uncle, you were addressed by the white folks as "boy" or "girl." I can remember my grandfather, back in the 1940s, calling middle-aged railroad porters "boy." Today we might say "pardon me," or "hey, buddy." Back then it was "Boy, can you direct me to the ticket counter?"

Wordless Wonder

Another picture that must have a real story behind it! Nice whiskers! Any idea at all about where it was taken. That background should be a clue to someone.


I wonder what her oxcart errand was.

In any case, she's got a gaze of experience that commands respect, and truly delightful mittens done stranded knitting. Although there are tons of patterns out there for mittens done in various geometrics, I've never seen a pair like Aunt Charlotte's.

Brings back memories

I was born in the late 40s, and don't recall any bull wagons, but remember the sun bonnets and capes well, along with old men with whiskers. This picture could well have come from the post WWII period in the South.

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