Birmingham Public Library launches Shackelford family photographs display

A standing room only audience listens to Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson’s lecture on the Shackelford photograph collection.

An evening lecture and reception at the downtown Birmingham Public Library marked the opening of a display of early 20th century photographs from west Alabama taken by an African-American family of professional photographers.

Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935)  is the name of the display that will be will be on view in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery through Sept. 14.  It’s a fine exhibit, featuring photos of everyday people in a rural community.

The Shackelfords were primarily farmers, but they were also photographers who left a collection of more than 850 glass plate negatives that are now in the library’s archives.

Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson of the University of Maryland, College Park, gave an opening lecture that compared how in early 20th century popular culture, African-Americans were depicted as caricatures, compared to the dignified reality in the Shackelfords’ photos.

At noon on Thursday, curator Andrew Nelson will present a gallery talk at the Fourth Floor Gallery.

The library is at 2100 Park Place.

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