The Journals of Jervis McEntee, Struggling American Artist, Become Digitized: Poverty in Fine Art

An excerpt from the diary currently being transcribed to preserve the text in a digital environment. This page describes some of the trials and tribulations an artist may encounter in the 1800s.

Authored by Noah McKee

Jervis McEntee was born July 14, 1828. Very little is known about McEntee’s early life.  McEntee comes from the Hudson River School, which was an art movement that reflected romanticism through American landscape paintings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art described the Hudson River School as “America’s first true artistic fraternity” (Avery 2004, par. 1). Of this popular art movement, McEntee is regarded as a lesser-known figure within the Hudson River School, and the art world as a whole (Levine 2015).

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Alabama Assistant Commissioner: A Freed man’s Dilemma

Authored by Lanisha LeBlanc

Written report of the assistant commissioner of Alabama written in October of 1866.

In the Year 1865, the amorphousness of America following the emancipation of enslaved people left those in power to determine what to do with the individuals whom it was no longer legal to exploit for free labor. Within this decision, the freedmen’s bureau was formed, which entailed providing necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, for the Southerns displaced ensuing the new law of prohibiting the ownership of African people (United States Senate, n.d.).

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Setting a Precedent for American Aid; The Freedmen’s Bureau

Authored by Marion Ward

Registers and Letters Received by the Commissioner, Indexes and Registers, Register 14, Jan. 1–July 31, 1869.

On March 3, 1865, the War Department of the United States established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands; it has since come to be known as the Freedmen’s Bureau (National Archives 2021). Facing the aftermath of the Civil War and the havoc it wreaked on the American economic system, President Andrew Johnson worked alongside Congress to create the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was a federal agency that was established for the purpose of promoting the social welfare of the recently freed population of enslaved African Americans (Hatfield 2020).

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“The Girl I Left Behind Me” and The Wait for Loved Ones to Return Home from War

Authored By Leah Phelan

Eastman Johnson, created in 1872, describes this oil on canvas by analyzing an Irish ballad popular with the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. The photograph depicts Civil War art and the impact of the war on America. The Smithsonian American Art Museum purchase was made in part by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice in memory of her husband and Ralph Cross Johnson. The object number is 1986.79.

The oil canvas painting “The Girl I Left Behind Me” was painted by Eastman Johnson. The picture’s title was known to be an Irish ballad title in was made notable during the Civil War (Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide 2015, par. 2). The woman is surrounded by darkness as the wind blows, unsure of what will come next. Through the lyrics, a connection of unity as this woman in the painting is not the only woman to have to say goodbye to their loved one; “until I see my love again for whom my heart is breaking” (The Girl I Left Behind 2021, under “Brighton Camp”). Although other paintings were prevalent, this was the first time an artist depicted the impacts of war in American art, allowing artists to voice concerns for the nation (Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide 2015, par. 2).

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Finding Freedom during the Reconstruction Era

Authored by Sarah Sporko

Ch. Rausenberg to Brvt. Capt. M. Frank Gallagher, September 30, 1868. Freedmen’s Bureau: Georgia Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, Entered in Register 6, 2-672, Sept. 1868=Apr.1869, Part 1. Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center, Freedmen’s Bureau: Washington D.C.

In 1868, Ch. Raushenberg, an agent of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman, and Abandoned Lands, also known as Freedmen’s Bureau, wrote a letter to the bureau reporting that two men, Lucius Lamar and Albert Jones, were questioned about a death of another man named Walker in Georgia. Both Lamar and Jones stated that Walker died from gunshot wounds in his chest after being harassed and threatened by a group of white men. Ch. Raushenberg forwarded this information to the Freedmen’s Bureau so the matter can be fully investigated and justice for Walker can be served. Letters such as the one written from Ch. Raushenberg, show how integral the Freedmen’s Bureau was during the transition from slavery to freedom during the Reconstruction Era of the United States (Mildred 1915, 67).

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