VIRTUAL: Emma's Postcard Album: Black Lives in the Early Twentieth Century


Join Dr. Faith Mitchell '73 and Dr. Joe McCarthy GSE '83 '90 '91 as they discuss Dr. Mitchell's new book, an artistic study of the postcard collection of Emma Crawford, a young Black woman living in Pennsylvania, who collected her correspondence with family and friends between 1906-1910.


When: Tuesday, February 21st, 2023, 6:00-7:00pm Eastern

Where: Zoom


The turn of the twentieth century was an extraordinarily difficult period for African Americans, a time of unchecked lynchings, mob attacks, and rampant Jim Crow segregation. During these bleak years, Emma Crawford, a young African American woman living in Pennsylvania, corresponded by postcard with friends and family members and collected the cards she received from all over the country. Her album―spanning from 1906 to 1910 and analyzed in Emma's Postcard Album―becomes an entry point into a deeply textured understanding of the nuances and complexities of African American lives and the survival strategies that enabled people “to make a way from no way.” As snippets of lived experience, eye-catching visual images, and reflections of historical moments, the cards in the collection become sources for understanding not only African-American life, but also broader American history and culture.

In Emma's Postcard Album, Faith Mitchell innovatively places the contents of this postcard collection into specific historic and biographical contexts and provides a new interpretation of postcards as life writings, a much-neglected aspect of scholarship. Through these techniques, a riveting world that is far too little known is revealed, and new insights are gained into the perspectives and experience of African Americans. Capping off these contributions, the text is a visual feast, illustrated with arresting images from the Golden Age of postcards as well as newspaper clippings and other archival material.


Dr. Mitchell and Dr. McCarthy will peek into the slice of life of Emma's life that Dr. Mitchell has so meticulously researched and shared with the world. 


About Dr. Mitchell:


Faith Mitchell is an Intermittent Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute, affiliated with both the
Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the Health Policy Center. Over several decades, her career has bridged research, practice, and social and health policy. 
Previously, she was President and CEO of Grantmakers In Health, a Washington DC-based national organization that advises, informs, and supports the work of health foundations and corporate giving programs. Before that, she held leadership positions at the National Academies (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine), U.S. Department of State, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and San Francisco Foundation.


Dr. Mitchell has a doctorate in medical anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has written or edited numerous policy-related publications and, in addition to Emma's Postcard Album, she is the author of Hoodoo Medicine, a groundbreaking study of Black folk medicine, and The Book of Secrets, Part 1, a semi-factual supernatural thriller. 

Get a copy of Emma's Postcard Album: Black Lives in the Early Twentieth Century at University Press of MississippiAmazon, or Barnes and Noble



Harvard Club Members & their Guests: FREE!

Non-Members: $15.00