Photographing Freetowns
Newberry exhibition displays a new acquisition of documentary photography from the 1930s and ‘40s
WHAT:         Photographing Freetowns, a Newberry exhibition, focuses on a series of poignant photographs of African American life in Depression-era Kentucky. The photographer, Helen Balfour Morrison, traveled from her home in Evanston to photograph life in the Freetowns, also known as hamlets, which developed in Kentucky as all black communities originally settled by freed slaves after the Civil War. Her images chart the daily lives of these individuals, picturing their work, domestic rituals, and social life.
When originally exhibited in the mid-20th century, these photographs garnered critical acclaim, though they have since faded from prominence in the art world. This exhibition aims to pose questions about this neglected artist and her work, rather than answers, inviting more research into Morrison’s work and the relationship between photographer and photographed.
The exhibition will feature nearly 80 of Morrison’s original prints, together with contextual materials from the Newberry’s collections. Also on view will be Morrison’s original home movie of her 1935 trip, plus a slideshow of all of her almost 500 Kentucky images.

WHEN:        Exhibition: Friday, January 20, 2017 – Saturday, April  15,2017                                                                 
WHERE:     Newberry Library
                        60 W. Walton Street
                        Chicago, IL 60610  
COST:           FREE to attend

About the Newberry
Serving the public since 1887, the Newberry is a world-renowned independent research library that is home to a collection spanning six centuries. The collection features items such as illuminated medieval manuscripts, rare early maps, rich genealogical resources, and the personal papers of Midwest authors. Free and open to the public, the Newberry offers exhibitions based on its collections; theatrical performances; lectures and discussions with today's leading humanists; seminars and workshops; and teacher programs. Visit us in person at 60 W. Walton Street, Chicago, or at