Holsinger Studio Ledgers

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The Holsinger Studio Collection in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia constitutes a unique photographic record of life in Charlottesville and Albemarle County from before the turn of the century through World War I through through ~9,000 glass plate negatives and 500 celluloid negatives. Rufus W. Holsinger's city scenes and landscapes, views of the University, and portraits of prominent white citizens are familiar to many, but the images of African American community members have rarely been exhibited or published, and never analyzed or displayed as a whole.

Documentation of African American history in Central Virginia is relatively scant, yet needed now more than ever, as recent events are reviving painful histories of slavery and segregation and the long and dark shadows they still cast. These portraits offer a different memory of our shared past: the images’ beauty and grace invite viewers to contemplate the full, rich lives created in the face of all-too-real oppression.

In concert with a forthcoming exhibition at the UVA Library (opening September 2022) and a broad collaborative community outreach effort supported with a grant from The Jefferson Trust, we are excited to launch a project to crowd-source the transcription of business ledgers (ranging from approximately 1909-1927) from the Holsinger Studio to propel research that connects the portraits and sitters to their stories. Transcribing the business ledgers to connect names, dates, and other details will allow us to understand more about the lives of the portrait sitters and will offer their descendants an opportunity to connect with their past.
Ledger: Rufus Holsinger ~1909-1927

Ledger: Rufus Holsinger ~1909-1927

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