In the case of a woman suing for custody of 1850s photographs of her naked, slave ancestors a Massachusetts judge has ruled for Harvard University.
Tamara Lanier wanted custody of photographs of her South Carolina slave ancestors. To see our original blog post on this story (January 25, 2021) CLICK HERE
According to the Associated Press, “In her 2019 lawsuit, Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, said Renty and Delia are her ancestors and that the photos were taken against their will. She demanded the photos from Harvard, saying the Ivy League school had exploited the portraits for profit, including by using Renty’s image on the cover of a book.
Lanier’s lawsuit alleged that Agassiz saw Renty and Delia as “nothing more than research specimens” and forced them to participate in a “degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status.”
The lawsuit says Lanier verified her genealogical ties to Renty, whom she calls “Papa Renty” and says is her great-great-great-grandfather.
But the judge hearing the case sided with Harvard, which argued that Lanier had no legal claim to the photos. In her decision, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Camille Sarrouf said the photos are the property of the photographer, not the subject.”
To see the entire AP story CLICK HERE
To see our January 25 blog entry with more background and links, CLICK HERE