Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Eric Garberson

Second Advisor

Brian Daugherity

Third Advisor

Babatunde Lawal


Containing portraiture and biography as well as protest text and affirmative text, African- American Illustrated biographical dictionaries made from 1876 to 1917 present Social Gospel ideology and are examples of Afro-Protestantism. They are similar to the first American illustrated biographical dictionaries of the 1810s in that they formed social identity after national conflict while contesting concepts of social inferiority. The production of these books occurred during the early years of Jim Crow, a period of momentous change to the legal and social fabric of the United States, and because of momentous changes in modern American print industries. While portraits within the books simultaneously form, blur, and stabilize identity, biographies convey themes of perseverance, social equity, and social struggle. More specifically, text formed an imagined community in the African-American middle class imaginary. It worked together with image to help create a proto-Civil Rights social movement identity during the beginning of racial apartheid.


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