Archives of American Art

Joshua Johnson manumission record

Collection ID:
Johnson, Joshua, fl. 1796-1824
1782 July 15
Physical Description:
1 Microfilm reel
4 pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This microfilm collection documents African American artist Joshua Johnson's formal emancipation from slavery on July 15, 1782. The manumission is recorded in pages 298-300 of a volume of Baltimore County Chattel Records, 1773-1788.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Joshua Johnson, or Johsnston (circa 1765-circa 1830) was an African American portraitist in Baltimore, Maryland. Johnson was the son of a white man and and enslaved woman and was sold to his father, who acknowledged him as his son and agreed to free him when Johnson either completed an apprenticeship with a blacksmith or turned 21, whichever came first. Johnson was listed in Baltimore City directories as a painter or limner beginning in 1796. He is the first documented African American professional artist.

Existence and Location of Copies
35mm microfilm reel 5135 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Existence and Location of Originals
Originals returned to lender after microfilming. The originals have now been digitized and are available through the Maryland Historical Society.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Lent for microfilming 1996 by the Maryland Historical Society.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Slaves -- Emancipation -- Maryland -- Baltimore Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Maryland -- Baltimore Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001