Photographing Freetowns: African American Kentucky Through the Lens of Helen Balfour Morrison, 1935-1946

Sunday Best

Pictured in a more formal time, the Kentucky African Americans in Helen Morrison’s photographs had a variety of reasons to dress up – church services, the arrival of visitors, trips into town, or other special occasions – to name a few. Donning ones “Sunday best” for church was probably the most common reason, as religion played a central role in African American community and social life.

Two titles supplied by Morrison for her photographs suggest the entertaining of visitors or other special occasions. Using stereotypical language, Masters Got Company implies that some of the women and children in the image are guests and that this gathering is a special occasion. Why Morrison chose this title or why two women and four young children are sitting outside amidst a grove of trees remains unknown. In The Breadman – United States of America a white delivery man with a basket of goods kneels among a group of African American women and children. The easy familiarity evident in the scene suggests that the customers knew the “Breadman” and expected to welcome him at a regular time and place.
 

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