Photography aficionados may know Helen Balfour Morrison for her portraits of famous Americans, displayed in museums across the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago and MoMA. In 1935, Morrison turned her eye toward the rarely shown experience of African American "freetowns," small independent communities that formed after the abolishment of slavery. The photos capture an important piece of African American history, and are now on display at the Newberry Library's new exhibit, Photographing Freetowns—don't miss an opportunity to see it while you can!



Photographing Freetowns: African American Kentucky through the Lens of Helen Balfour Morrison, 1935–1946

  • FREE

  • Through April 15 at the Newberry Library

Photographing Freetowns exhibit at the Newberry Library

The exhibit focuses on two communities in Depression-era Kentucky, Zion Hill and Sugar Hill. The towns were settled by freed men after the Civil War, and the photos document the lives of their close-knit descendants. They showcase the independence and dignity of the community's daily rituals, from social interactions to farming chores. The exhibit features almost 80 photos and also includes Morrison's original home movie of her 1935 trip, as well as a slide-show with almost 500 images.

Newberry Library  |  60 W. Walton Street  |  312-943-9090

Galleries are open Tuesday–Thursday, 8:15 a.m.–7:30 p.m. and Monday, Friday, Saturday, 8:15 a.m.–5 p.m. CLOSED Sunday. Join a curator-led tour on Thursday, February 23, or Thursday, March 30, at 5:30 p.m. No registration required. Tours will meet in the lobby five minutes before the tour time. Plan your visit today!