A True Likeness: Introduction | Carolina Stories - Episode 1


An old photograph taken sometime between 1912 and 1914 is found, and experts were told to visit a Miss Hattie May Cornwell, in the Arsenal Hill community of Columbia, S.C. She not only identified the photograph, but it turns out the photographer who took the photo used to live next door to her. The man living next door was Mr. Cornelius Roberts, who is one of the surviving sons of Richard Samuel Roberts, a well-known Columbia photographer.

A collection of about three thousand glass negatives were found under the house, and with permission of the Roberts family, some of the negatives were taken to be developed. Interestingly, Richard Roberts was still using glass plates in the 1920’s and 1930’s, even though roll film had been invented by George Eastman years before. The photographs taken by Richard Roberts not only captured the souls of the people photographed, but also, the prominence of an African-American middle class in the 1920’s. 


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