BLACK VOICES
02/27/2017 04:40 pm ET

This Chilling Photo Collection Captures Fascinating Black History Artifacts

Included: a lock of Frederick Douglass' hair.
"Manifest" is a collection of photos of historical black artifacts.
Wendel White
"Manifest" is a collection of photos of historical black artifacts.

For over nine years, Wendel White has been venturing to countless museums throughout the U.S. to photograph historical black artifacts for his “Manifest” photo series.

From a lock of Frederick Douglass’ hair and FBI files on Malcolm X to a tambourine once played by Prince, White’s collection of nearly 100 photos allows for continual consumption of black history. 

“[The title] ‘Manifest’ evokes the complicated notions of slavery as cargo or inventory and the notion that these objects are also a collection or reliquary of African-American experience and memory,” White, who currently resides in New Jersey, told The Huffington Post last week.

He said that historical black artifacts are often overlooked by most museums. 

“My photographs are meant to describe and materialize the experience of encountering objects that have been traveling through time stored in cabinets, on shelves and in warehouses for centuries or just a few years,” White said.

“I am increasingly interested in the residual power of the past to inhabit these material remains,” he continued. “The ability of objects to transcend lives, centuries and millennia suggests a remarkable mechanism for folding time, bringing the past and the present into a shared space that is uniquely suited to artistic exploration.”  

Wendel ― who’s been collecting for the “Manifest” series since 2008 ― finds his subjects through research and suggestions from friends. While some of his material is gathered from private archives, the majority of it comes from public collections. 

“Manifest” was first exhibited at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and has since been on display at museums across the country. A number of the collection’s newer additions are from exhibits at the highly buzzed-about National Museum of African American History and Culture, including a piece of stained glass destroyed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama, which killed four young girls. 

White said the remnant was “one of the most painful objects” he’s photographed. 

Take a look at some of the most striking images from the “Manifest” portfolio below:

  • Decorative Coin Bank
    Cape May Museum, Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey
    Cape May Museum, Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey
  • Bible Owned By Former Cape May Slave Ishmael Armour
    James Hand Collection, Cape May Museum, Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey
    James Hand Collection, Cape May Museum, Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey
  • Portrait
    Brownville History Museum, Brownville, Nebraska
    Brownville History Museum, Brownville, Nebraska
  • Stained Glass, 16th Street Baptist Church
    National Museum of African American History, Washington, D.C.
    National Museum of African American History, Washington, D.C.
  • Button
    Cleaver for President, Douglas County Historical Society, Omaha, Nebraska
    Cleaver for President, Douglas County Historical Society, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Frederick Douglass Hair
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2012
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2012
  • Patsy Flanagan Carter
    State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa
    State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Little Black Sambo (1921)
    Paul R. Schopp Collection, Riverton, New Jersey
    Paul R. Schopp Collection, Riverton, New Jersey
  • Father Flannigan And President Coolidge At Boystown
    Douglass County Historical Society, Omaha, Nebraska
    Douglass County Historical Society, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Tape Recorder Used By Malcolm X At Mosque #7
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
  • Baby Dolls, Kenneth and Mamie Clark
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
  • Afro-American Sentinel, 1899
    Great Plains Black History Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2012
    Great Plains Black History Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2012
  • Mirrored Casket, Ferguson
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
  • 18th Or 19th Century Slavery Shackles
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
    National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
  • Frederick Douglass Jr. Hair
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • FBI Files On Malcolm X
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Rev. And Mrs. Loguen
    Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York
    Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, New York
  • Rossetta Douglass Hair
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
    Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Postcards
    Printed in Germany, Paul R. Schopp Collection, Riverton, New Jersey
    Printed in Germany, Paul R. Schopp Collection, Riverton, New Jersey
  • Confederate Shell Fort Sumter 1861
    Alexander Library, Special Collections, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
    Alexander Library, Special Collections, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Clarkson's Abolition Of The Slave Trade 1808
    Salem County Historical Society, New Jersey
    Salem County Historical Society, New Jersey
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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
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