Harriet Tubman helped without hesitation. Here's a unique opportunity to return the favor.

"Young, strong, vibrant, unadorned, and beautiful."

These are just a few of the words Karen Hill used to describe Harriet Tubman in this rare photograph, presumed to be taken shortly after the Civil War in Tubman's adopted hometown of Auburn, New York.

A previously unrecorded photograph of Harriet Tubman. Image via the Swann Gallery.


Tubman rarely sat for photographs, as her life's work required her to hide from bounty hunters and others wishing to do her and the movement harm. As such, very few images of her exist, especially from her younger years. This image of Tubman, likely in her mid- to late-40s, was previously unrecorded ... until now.

The photo is just one part of a lot heading to auction March 30, 2017. Hill, the president and CEO of the Harriet Tubman Home, wants the picture back where it belongs.

The rare photograph was found in a centuries-old carte de visite album belonging to Emily Howland, an educator and abolitionist.

Carte de visites are small images (around 2" x 3.5") mounted on thick paper. Because of their small size, they were often traded among friends and visitors.

Howland's album also includes 44 other photographs that appear to be in good condition, including the only known portrait of John Willis Menard, the first black man elected to the House of Representatives (although his opponent's opposition to the election prevented Menard from being seated).

On the right, Howland's carte de visite album. On the left, an album page featuring John Willis Menard. Images via the Swann Gallery.

Given the truly exceptional images and their condition, the lot is estimated to sell for $25,000 to $30,000.

Private collectors will jump at the chance to own such a rare piece of history, but there's only one place a piece like this belongs: the Harriet Tubman Home.

In 1859, Harriet Tubman purchased a piece of land outside Auburn, New York, a community known for progressive thought and abolition. Tubman and the family members she emancipated made their home there, and the Auburn land became a true safe haven. In early 1903, despite financial trouble, Tubman donated some of her land to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who used it to found the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged.

The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged. Photo by Lvklock/Wikimedia Commons.

Today, through a nonprofit group, the AME Zion Church keeps Tubman's spirit of determination and ingenuity alive through the management of the Harriet Tubman Home. Visitors can take a guided tour of Tubman's Home for the Aged, see the exterior of her personal home, your the 32-acre homestead, and see up to 60,000 artifacts representing her life and mission. Congress even made the property and land a National Historical Park in 2014.

To preserve Tubman's legacy and ensure the photo is available to the public, the Harriet Tubman Home is raising money to #BringHarrietHome.

The Harriet Tubman Home launched a fundraising campaign to raise a minimum of $25,000 in order to be competitive bidders at the upcoming auction. With 13 days to go as of this writing, the group has raised around $21,000.

"While we can appreciate that the finder’s compensation for discovering and sharing this photo of Harriet Tubman is warranted, we are resolute in our belief that there is no dollar amount that can match the incalculable value that will come from having it properly preserved in our archives at her home in Auburn," read the group's Women You Should Fund page.

Harriet Tubman via the Swann Gallery.

Should the Harriet Tubman Home be outbid, donors can rescind their contribution or donate to the Harriet Tubman Home to fund volunteer training and restoration efforts to the home.

The residence Tubman shared with her husband, Nelson Davis. Davis laid the bricks himself, but they're in desperate need of restoration. Image via Women You Should Know/YouTube.

This is your chance to say thank you.

Harriet Tubman dedicated her life to selfless service — guiding slaves to freedom, working as a spy, cook, and nurse and armed scout for the Union, then donating her land to the church to help the elderly. She did all of this not for praise or acclaim, but because she knew in her heart it was right.

This is right too.

As painful as it is to think of Harriet Tubman on the auction block more than 100 years after her death, we can each do our part to help preserve this piece of her legacy for generations to come. This is a rescue mission. It's time to return the favor.

Watch the powerful video from the Harriet Tubman Home and donate or share to #BringHarrietHome.

Most Shared
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular