Addison and Cynthia with descendants


This photograph, from the Tennessee Virtual Archive, is called “Addison and Cynthia with descendants”. The label says, “Addison and Cynthia, former slaves of William Rankin. They are shown with their descendants. Addison has the family bible on his lap. Approximately 1890. Dunlap, TN”

The first thing that jumped out to me was Addison’s eyes. I think Addison may have been blind. His eyes look unusual—maybe he has cataracts? I enlarged it and turned up the contrast to see if I could make out any additional detail. See what you think:

I count nineteen people in this photo—feel free to double-check me. It looks like they had some money. If Cynthia is the woman sitting beside Addison, she looks surprisingly young to me–younger than many other people in the picture–and much younger than Addison.

I love how they are all dressed. The men’s style is pretty uniform but the ladies vary considerably. They all definitely had their own style!


Leave a Comment

  1. I think you’re right they must have had money. It was so unusual for people at that time to have these kinds of portraits otherwise. At first I thought Addison might have blinked, but it does seem his eyes are open. Cataracts seem a likely explanation.

    Liked by 2 people

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