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Guide to the Jeanine Michna-Bales Photographs, 2013-2015

Summary

Jeanine Michna-Bales is a conceptual documentary photographer based in Dallas, Texas. Her series "Through Darkness to Light: Seeking Freedom on the Underground Railroad" won the 2016 ADA Collection Award for Documentarians of the American South. The project comprises 40 color photographs of a route taken by travelers on the Underground Railroad between 1800 and the end of the Civil War. Michna-Bales researched the route over a decade and photographed the locations between 2012 and 2015.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11285
Title
Jeanine Michna-Bales photographs
Date
2013-2015
Creator
Michna-Bales, Jeanine
Extent
7 Linear Feet
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

The Jeanine Michna-Bales photographs comprise her series "Through Darkness to Light: Seeking Freedom on the Underground Railroad," which won the 2016 ADA Collection Award for Documentarians of the American South. The series contains (39) 17"x24.5" color photographs printed on 21"x28.5" paper and (1) 17"x70.75" panoramic photograph printed on 21"x74.75" paper. Images are digital chromogenic prints printed on Kodak Endura Lustre paper printed in 2016 by Steve Clayton at Holland Photo Imaging in Austin, Texas.

Michna-Bales provided the following abstract of her work:

They left during the middle of the night – oftentimes carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the northern side of trees. An estimated 100,000 slaves between 1800 and the end of the Civil War chose to embark on this journey of untold hardships in search of freedom. Fugitives traveled roughly 20 miles each night traversing rugged terrain while enduring all the hardships that Mother Nature could bring to bear. Occasionally, they were guided from one secret, safe location to the next by an ever-changing, clandestine group known as the Underground Railroad. From a cotton plantation in Louisiana all the way north to Canada, this series of photographs can help us imagine what the long road to freedom may have looked like as seen through the eyes of one of those who made this epic journey.

The documented route took over a decade to piece together. Images were captured digitally over a three-year period starting in the Fall of 2012. The images have been displayed with found text from the time period, such as quotes from various participants, to help give the viewer a better understanding of circumstances surrounding a person’s journey to freedom.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Arrangement

Arranged by creator.

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Jeanine Michna-Bales Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Decision to Leave, 2013

Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, Louisiana

Box 1
Folder 1
Southern Pine Forest, 2014

Following El Camino Real; LaSalle Parish, Louisiana

Box 1
Folder 1
Catching a Breath, 2014

LaSalle Parish, Louisiana

Box 1
Folder 1
Stopover, 2014

Frogmore Plantation; Concordia Parish, Louisiana

Box 1
Folder 1
Sunken Trace, 2015

Claiborne County, Mississippi

Box 1
Folder 1
Determining Truth North in the Rain, 2014

Along the southern part of the Old Natchez Trace, Mississippi

Box 1
Folder 1
Cypress Swamp, 2014

Middle Mississippi

Box 1
Folder 1
Off the Beaten Path, 2014

Along the Yockanookany River, Mississippi

Box 1
Folder 1
Doubling Back, 2015

Webster County, Mississippi

Box 1
Folder 1
Keep Going, 2014

Crossing the Tennessee River; Colbert County, Alabama

Box 1
Folder 1
Twisted Thicket, 2014

Lawrence County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
Devil's Backbone, 2014

Lewis County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
Shelter from the Storm, 2014

Hickman County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
Tennessee Valley Divide, 2014

Williamson County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
Taking to the Hollow, 2014

Davidson County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
Hidden in Plain Sight, 2014

Rose Mont Plantation; Sumner County, Tennessee

Box 1
Folder 1
A Lesson in Astronomy, 2014

Southern Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 1
Fleeing the Torches, 2014

Warren County, Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 1
Hidden Passage, 2014

Mammoth Cave; Barren County, Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 1
Following the Green River, 2014

Edmonson County, Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 1
Racing the Stars, 2014

Between Oldham and Shelby Counties, Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 2
over the Hills, 2014

North Trimble County, Kentucky

Box 1
Folder 2
The River Jordan, 2014
(Panoramic image. Image measures 17" by 70.75".)

First view of a free state, crossing the Ohio River to Indiana

Oversize-image 1
Eagle Hollow from Hunter's Bottom, 2014

Just Across the Ohio River, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Follow the Drinking Gourd, 2013

Jefferson County, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Nightlight, 2014

Passing into Fayette County, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Friend or Foe?, 2014

Station just outside Metamora, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
A Brief Respite, 2014

Abolitionist William Beard’s house, Union County, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Look for the Gray Barn Out Back, 2013

Joshua Eliason Jr. barnyards and farmhouse, with a tunnel leading underneath the road to another station, Centerville, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
A Safe Place to Regroup, 2014

House of Levi Coffin, who was unofficially dubbed the president of the Underground Railroad. Fountain City (formerly Newport), Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Approaching the Seminary, 2014

Near Spartanburg, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Taking Cover with the Fireflies, 2014

North of Winchester, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
On the Safest Route, 2014

James and Rachel Sillivan’s cabin, Pennville (formerly Camden), Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Walk Along the Ridge, 2014

Between the Maumee and St. Joseph Rivers. Braun-Leslie House, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Box 1
Folder 2
Dirt Road, 2014

Outside Coldwater, Michigan

Box 1
Folder 2
"Liberty to the Fugitive Captive", 2014

Waiting for the all-clear to head to the Captain John Lowry Station; Lodi Plains Cemetery, Nutting’s Corner, Michigan

Box 1
Folder 2
The Beacon Tree, 2014

Spring Hill Farm, Macomb County, Michigan

Box 1
Folder 2
Scrub Field, 2014

Leaving Reverend Oren Cook Thompson Station, St. Clair County, Michigan

Box 1
Folder 2
Within Reach, 2014

Crossing the St. Clair River to Canada just south of Port Huron, Michigan

Box 1
Folder 2
Freedom, 2014

Canadian soil; Sarnia, Ontario

Box 1
Folder 2
 

Historical Note

Jeanine Michna-Bales is a documentary photographer based in Dallas, Texas. Her work has been shown throughout the United States as well as in online publications and blogs.


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The Jeanine Michna-Bales Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Katrina Martin, September, 2016.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2016-0243