U.S.A. - ATLANTA-GEORGIA - HOMECOMING: African American Family History in Georgia


Hammonds House Museum is pleased to remount this exhibit from the archives of Auburn Avenue Research Library to not only recount an important segment of
Georgia history but to also focus on the art of photography from the lens of African American photographers from 1840 to the present.

This archival documentation project developed by Carole Merrit is a revealing recollection of black family strength and endurance and reveling reminder of where the family unit stands today in contrast.

This exhibition marks a significant partnership launch between Hammonds House Museum and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. The shared resources and programs of this union will translate into new avenues to better serve and engage the community.

This exhibition documents and pays homage to an incredible achievement – the survival of kinship ties and family pride among black people through the horrific experience of slavery. Up until 1978 when the project that collected these photographs was launched, there had been relatively little research on the African American family.

Two years earlier, in 1976, the country had celebrated its Bicentennial. Coincidentally, at the same time that Americans as a whole were reflecting on their country’s roots, Alex Haley published a book that would forever change how African Americans perceived their own. Roots reminded everyone that their family histories were richer and more complex than their recent memories and sparked an unprecedented interest in genealogy. Here in Georgia, this interest gave rise to the African-American Family History Association. In 1978, the Association began planning an exhibit on the history of Black families in Georgia as part of its goal “to engage the public in the research and appreciation of the family history of a people whose heritage has generally been unrecognized.”

The project developed by Carole Merritt, focused on the period from 1750 to the twentieth century in an attempt to get a general view of the changes that had taken place in black family life as well as the “continuities” that had endured over 200 years. More than 100 Georgia families participated, contributing family histories, photographs, and other documents. The first“Homecoming” exhibition was held in 1982 at the main branch of the Atlanta Public Library. The photographs selected for this current exhibition date from the late 1800’s to the mid 1960’s and chronicle moments in family life that we all recognize - birth, childhood, courtship, marriage, and death.

For African-Americans, home has had many meanings. As a place of origin, it was Africa; as a place of birth and residence, America. For many, home has been Georgia. In the sense of family, home has transcended place and circumstance. Bloodlines extended from Africa to America, and kinship survived slavery, oppression, war, and migration.

from the book Homecoming: African-American Family History in Georgia by Carole Merritt
Hammonds House Museum    03.02.2013 - 28.04.2013

Website : Hammonds House Museum

Website : City of Atlanta

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