Sojourner Truth — abolitionist and feminist
Truth, Sojourner
I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance [cabinet card]
Feminist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth was one of the towering figures of nineteenth-century America. She was born into slavery in 1797 on a rural farm in Ulster County, New York. At age thirty, she drew strength from her Christian faith and found the courage to escape with her infant daughter. By the 1860s, Sojourner Truth had moved to Battle Creek, Michigan. Between 1863 and 1875, Truth had at least fourteen different photographic portraits made. She sold them to provide income for herself. These cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards were portable and far cheaper to produce than copies of her Narrative. She controlled every aspect of the way she is depicted in these images—genteelly, in cap and shawl, often with her knitting, a book or photograph in her lap, obscuring her disabled right hand.
Truth, Sojourner, I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance [cabinet card], 1864, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed April 24, 2024,