Class Picture, Ohio
Photographer unknown

Austin/Thompson Collection

This photograph was purchased from an antique store in Columbus, Ohio, and was identified as coming from Southern Ohio. From before the Civil War, Ohio was a refuge for many African Americans escaping from slavery, especially via the Underground Railroad.

Discussion Questions

What was the purpose of this photograph?

Who do you think took it?

When do you think this photograph was taken?
(Judging from the dutch boy haircuts on all the girls and the teacher's dress, as well as the knickers on the boys, it was taken in the 1920s. With younger children, you may have to simply give them this information and explain how you know it.)

What do notice about the children in the picture?
(There are two black children. They are the only girls on the back rown. All of the other children have perfectly straight hair, except the blonde girl in the front. The girl on the third row, third in from the right has something wrong with her eye. The boy in the middle has something wrong with his nose and mouth.

What do you notice about their clothes?
(Most of them have pretty nice clothes. The girls are all wearing dresses. Most of the shoes we can see are "Mary Janes." The boy at the left in the front has torn pants and socks that look too big for him. The boy in the middle is wearing a sports coat and tie.

What do you think some of these children are like? (Point to children whose expressions or postures interest you.)

From this picture, how do you think these children are like the children in our town (school)? How do you think they're different?