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Visualizing Emancipation


October 11th, 2012 - March 16th, 2013

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Schomburg presents 171 pre– and post–Civil War era photographs of enslaved and free black women, men, and children. The images record the presence of black soldiers and black workers in the American South and help the 21st century viewer reimagine a landscape of black people's desire to be active in their own emancipation.


As a companion to the exhibition, a 24-page CURRICULUM GUIDE is now available for teachers, parents, and community educators to download here.


"There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when our message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy by deeds as bold and daring as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation."--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the New York Civil War Centennial Commission’s Emancipation Proclamation Observance, New York City, September 12, 1962




Robert A. Sengstacke, Robert A. Sengstacke Collection, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library

The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

A Special Exhibition to Celebrate its 150th Anniversary

September 21–24, 2012

Exhibition Hall

In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, this four-day exhibition presented for the first time together Abraham Lincoln's handwritten draft, issued on September 22, 1862, from the New York State Library, and the Official Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, from the National Archives.

This exhibition was organized by Board of Regents, The New York State Education Department, Dr. Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor; New York State Museum; New York State Library; New York State Archives; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library; and National Archives and Records Administration.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is grateful to the James S. and Merryl H. Tisch Foundation for its generous support of the anniversary celebration and exhibition-related programming.

This exhibition will travel to the these New York venues:
September 21-24: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City 
September 27: The Oncenter, Syracuse 
October 5-6: Burchfield Penny Art Center, Buffalo 
October 15-16: Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post and Greenvale 
October 19: Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Plattsburgh 
October 27-28: Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester 
November 1: Roberson Museum and Science Center, Binghamton
November 9-10: New York State Museum, Albany