Our history books invariably show white people behind the evolution of Victorian fashion. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. It wasn’t all “Little House on the Prairie” or “Gone with the Wind”. It wasn’t like black people were always slaves throughout history. Although Jim Crows laws were carried out to the letter, there were black people who could afford to keep up with the latest fashion trends.
FeedFond has collected 17 images of black men and women from the Victorian era to show that history—unlike what we see—wasn’t only about white fashionable people. So, scroll down and see the pictures that show a different side of history.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- #17 Debutante From Florida
- #16 The Honorable Reverend Hiram R. Revels
- #15 Deep In Thought?
- #14 Georgia Women
- #13 Posing
- #12 Fancy Woman with Fancy Feather Fan
- #11 Velvety Victorian
- #10 Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi
- #9 Goddaughter of Queen Victoria
- #8 Corporal Isaiah Mays
- #7 Eartha Mary Magdalene White
- #6 Stylish Duo
- #5 Posing for the Yearbook
- #4 Family Portrait
- #3 Smooth in Satin
- #2 The First Black Opera Singer
- #1 Finery at Its Best
#17 Debutante From Florida
This photo was taken between 1885 and 1910. Details are not known about this girl, other than that she was a well-dressed belle who happened to be near Tallahassee, Florida.
#16 The Honorable Reverend Hiram R. Revels
Reverend Revels was the first black person who served in the U.S. Senate from 1870 – 1871 in Mississippi. He was later appointed as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University).
#15 Deep In Thought?
Featured at the 1900 World Expo in Paris, this photo shows a small girl who’s not too happy with the Victorian dress. This photo was taken between 1890 and 1900 and belonged to W.E.B. DuBois’s collection.
#14 Georgia Women
Details are not known of this group of black women showing off their Sunday best while shading themselves from the harsh Georgia sun. This photo was captured in 1899.
A family poses for photography sometime in the 1890s.
#12 Fancy Woman with Fancy Feather Fan
With a keen sense of fashion, this woman is seen looking her best in her finery in Tallahassee, Florida. This photo was probably taken sometime between 1885 and 1910.
#11 Velvety Victorian
Dapper in a velvet bodice, this woman was photographed between 1885 and 1910.
#10 Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi
A Republican from Mississippi, he was the first black man to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate from 1875 – 1881. Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce later served as the register of the treasury under Presidents James Garfield and William McKinley.
#9 Goddaughter of Queen Victoria
Sarah Forbes Bonetta was an orphaned Yoruban princess and goddaughter to Queen Victoria. In this photo, she’s seen with her wealthy Nigerian husband, Capt. James Pinson Labulo Davies, who was a philanthropist, businessman, and merchant marine.
#8 Corporal Isaiah Mays
Mays was born into slavery in Virginia. Later on, as a free man, he enlisted in the military service and received a Medal Of Honor for his service in the Wham Paymaster robbery in 1889.
#7 Eartha Mary Magdalene White
Celebrated philanthropist and humanitarian – Eartha Mary Magdalene White – is seen here with her adopted mother. White spent her whole life in Jacksonville, Florida, where she dabbled in entrepreneurship in many areas including property, taxi transport, dried goods, and laundry. The successful entrepreneur spent her time looking after the homeless and hungry. White built the first public school for black students in Bayard, Florida.
#6 Stylish Duo
Details are not known of these people other than this photo was taken in Connecticut in the 1860s.
#5 Posing for the Yearbook
Graduating class students of the Florida State Normal and Industrial School for Colored
Students posing in 1904.
#4 Family Portrait
A family dressed up for their portrait in the lawns of Georgia at the end of the 19th century.
#3 Smooth in Satin
Taken between 1885 and 1910, details are not known about this man clad in a satin coat.
#2 The First Black Opera Singer
Marie Selika Williams was the first black soprano singer and the first black singer who performed in the White House in 1878.
#1 Finery at Its Best
Once again, details of the man in the photograph are not known. The photo was taken in Philadelphia in the 1850s.
Weren’t those images an eye-opener? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below. And don’t forget to check out more historical images.