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Jeanine Michna-Bales Through Darkness to Light: Seeking Freedom on the Underground Railroad


PDNB Gallery (Photographs Do Not Bend)

From a cotton plantation just south of Natchitoches, Louisiana, all the way north to Canada, Jeanine Michna-Bales has created a photographic journey of a slave's long road to freedom, circa 1840.

Under the cover of darkness, an estimated 100,000 slaves traveled north to freedom in the decades prior to the Civil War. Michna-Bales takes you on a dark lit passage through demanding terrains and ominous river crossings in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and finally Ontario, Canada. The threatening rivers crossed included the Mississippi, Tennessee and the Ohio River (The River Jordan).

Michna-Bales decade-long project uncovered roughly 1,400 miles, revealing actual sites, cities, and places that freedom-seekers passed through. Homes of Abolitionists William Beard, Joshua Eliason Jr., and Reverend Guy Beckley gave refuge, and are included in her photographic essay.The photographs offer an eerie, visceral journey that immerses you in the night's grasp. The images illustrate the daunting task of traveling roughly 20 miles each night. 

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  • FREE!


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