Palmer (Tuskegee, Alabama)

Instructor & Three Graduates with Diplomas and Geraniums

Gelatine-Silver Print, circa 1905

 4 x 5.5 inches

Taken around fifty years after the earliest image in this exhibit -- the ambrotype of the boy slave -- this group speaks to us of progress and of hope. The Tuskegee Institute (founded in 1881) stressed vocational education and actively spread improved farming methods with its pioneering use of agricultural extension services throughout the South. Many of its students received degrees in botany under the faculty led by the renowned plant scientist Dr. George Washington Carver.

Nothing is known about the photographer or the unidentified subjects of this photograph. The Archivist of Tuskegee University, Cynthia Wilson, reports the instructor in this image does not appear in other photographs of faculty members from the same era, suggesting these students may be graduates of some other institution in the community.

Perhaps someone will recognize these students or their instructor and fill in the missing information. Until then, we are left to study these faces, to marvel at the quiet pride in their gazes, and to wonder what the future held in store for them.

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