Arts & Culture

Jessica B. Harris’s Collection Of Vintage Postcards From The African Diaspora


Professor and culinary historian Jessica B. Harris is known for her critically acclaimed books documenting the foods of the African Diaspora and her new Netflix series High on the Hog, but she’s also a deltiologist––a refined name for a postcard collector. Harris has traveled the world for nearly five decades, collecting vintage postcards from the African Diaspora along her journey.

For the first time ever, her book Vintage Postcards From the African World: In the Dignity of Their Work and the Joy of Their Play unveils the hefty collection, features essays about how she became a collector, and examines the postcards in depth, citing the history of each image. There are over 150 images of the postcards in Harris’s book, supplying readers with a visual record of “more than a century of work in agricultural and culinary pursuits and joy in entertainments, parades, and celebrations.” It is arranged by geography––Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States––and also by the type of scenes portrayed.

“The images capture the dignity of the labors of everyday life and the pride of festive occasions,” reads the book’s official synopsis. “Superb and rare images demonstrate everything from how Africans and their descendants dressed to what tools they used to how their entertainments provided relief from toil.”

Below, view a select few postcards within Vintage Postcards From the African World

103 – French Market
French Market, New Orleans, | Jessica B. Harris, University Press of Mississippi
Among the Orange Groves in Florida
Among the Orange Groves in Florida. 117. “The orange, a native of Asiatic Countries, was brought to America by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The blossoms are exquisitely fragrant with delicious white petals. A tree in all of its golden glory of ripened fruit is a delight to see.” | Jessica B. Harris, University Press of Mississippi
The Zapateo scaled
The Zapateo, Tipical [sic] Cuban Dance. Union Postal Universal Post Card Republica de Cuba. | Jessica B. Harris, University Press of Mississippi

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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