The White Slave. [Stereoview Card]
“No Slavery,” “Freedom,” “Negro Emancipation,” “Poor Slaves”
Stereoview photograph of an African-American dandy having his shoes shined by a little white boy. The caption title, The White Slave, archly refers both to the apparent racial role reversal and to a broadside playbill in the background for American Bartley T. Campbell’s 1882 play of the same name set in the South.
The comic, dandy character—a theatrical trope—is shown wearing boldly checked and striped pants, frock coat, and a large top hat, while rakishly holding both a cigar and a cane. The small, white boy shining his boots almost recedes out of the scene. Featured more prominently behind the boy is a wall of handbills and broadsides.
These poster-like ads promote a performance of two plays at the Adelphi Theatre, possibly in New York: The White Slave and Dion Boucicault’s 1859 Southern drama, The Octoroon.
Also featured are smaller broadsides whose large type headlines read “No Slavery,” “Freedom,” “Negro Emancipation,” and “Poor Slaves.” Another, illustrated broadside shows a ship of the Clyde Steamship Company, sailing for New Orleans. The inclusion of this broadside further argues for the scene depicted here being in New York City, a hub of the Clyde steamship line which began in 1874.
A vendor label on the back of the stereocard reads: “From William Harrison, Dealer in Frames, Chromos, Stereoscopes, Views, Albums, &c. No. 345 South Street, Philadelphia.”
Description: The White Slave. [Stereoview Card]
[Np, np, c.1880s]. Stereoview Photograph. 3½ x 7 inches. Beige card stock with two mounted albumen photographs. Paper caption label on verso: “The White Slave.” Vendor’s ticket mounted on verso. Light wear and soiling to mount; very good.