Women's History Month

A Rediscovered Photo Of Young Harriet Tubman Is Unveiled To The World

All thanks to the Library of Congress.

Photos of American icon Harriet Tubman are rare to come by, and most are of the famed abolitionist in her later years. However, thanks to the Library of Congress, a previously unknown photo of Tubman has been conserved and digitized as part of an album set to be displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) this year.


The photo was originally part of a photo album owned by Quaker abolitionist and school teacher Emily Howland. The album — which also features a picture of John Willis Menard, the first African American elected to Congress — was acquired jointly by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian in 2017 and each picture was then cleaned and digitally scanned after the acquisition. The picture depicts a much younger Tubman than most have seen before.

"This photo album allows us to see Harriet Tubman in a riveting, new way; other iconic portraits present her as either stern or frail," said Lonnie G. Bunch III, the NMAAHC's founding director, in a statement. "This new photograph shows her relaxed and very stylish. Sitting with her arm casually draped across the back of a parlor chair, she's wearing an elegant bodice and a full skirt with a fitted waist. Her posture and facial expression remind us that historical figures are far more complex than most people realize. This adds significantly to what we know about this fierce abolitionist. And that's a good thing."

Catalogers think that the photo of Tubman could've been taken between 1867 and 1869.

Harriet Tubman is, of course, best known as the "conductor" of the Underground Railroad, the network of routes and safe houses used to help those in bondage escape the cruel institution of slavery during the 1800s. Her story continues to inspire. Using her legendary journey along the Underground Railroad to help free enslaved African Americans as motivation, the women of Girltrek hope to walk 100 miles in five days this month to help boost health awareness among the Black community.

Though Tubman passed away more than 100 years ago, her legacy lives on on.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.