Descendant of Enslaved People May Sue Harvard for Emotional Distress
Appellate court says university had duty to deal with ancestral issues, but dismisses claims for property rights in degrading daguerreotypes
In 1850 noted Harvard University professor Louis Agassiz arranged to have four daguerreotypes made of Renty Taylor and Delia Taylor, who were enslaved on a plantation in South Carolina. Renty was ordered to disrobe. His daughter was striped to the waist. Their images were used by Agassiz in an academic publication and various lectures “to support polygenism, a pseudoscientific racist theory for which Aggasiz, a prominent scientist, was a vocal proponent,” according to the highest court of Massachusetts. The pictures were subsequently transferred to Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology where they “remained in obscurity” until rediscovered in 1976. The discovery attracted...
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