Eighteenth-century photographs, ephemera and personal written recollections of African Americans are invaluable windows to America's past. An example is this fine half-plate ambrotype of an African-American nanny, likely a slave, and her charge. Found in Virginia. Sold in Cowan's Nov. 18, 2005 auction for $3,120. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Cowan's.

W.Va. woman’s African-American trove preserved

Eighteenth-century photographs, ephemera and personal written recollections of African Americans are invaluable windows to America's past. An example is this fine half-plate ambrotype of an African-American nanny, likely a slave, and her charge. Found in Virginia. Sold in Cowan's Nov. 18, 2005 auction for $3,120. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Cowan's.

Eighteenth-century photographs, ephemera and personal written recollections of African Americans are invaluable windows to America’s past. An example is this fine half-plate ambrotype of an African-American nanny, likely a slave, and her charge. Found in Virginia. Sold in Cowan’s Nov. 18, 2005 auction for $3,120. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Cowan’s.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A Charleston woman’s trove of African-American history is now in possession of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

Charlene Hodges Byrd served as a leader in Kanawha County public education for more than 40 years. She died in 2009, according to the Sunday Gazette-Mail of Charleston.

She asked in her will that her collection of family historical documents be donated to a museum.

The 14-box collection offers insight into African-American life during the early 1800s through photos, poetry, newspaper articles and autograph books.

Byrd’s goddaughter, Jaretta Engleman, said she took great pride in her family’s collection and wanted to share its history with others.

Engleman said Byrd’s collection inspired her and others.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Eighteenth-century photographs, ephemera and personal written recollections of African Americans are invaluable windows to America's past. An example is this fine half-plate ambrotype of an African-American nanny, likely a slave, and her charge. Found in Virginia. Sold in Cowan's Nov. 18, 2005 auction for $3,120. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Cowan's.

Eighteenth-century photographs, ephemera and personal written recollections of African Americans are invaluable windows to America’s past. An example is this fine half-plate ambrotype of an African-American nanny, likely a slave, and her charge. Found in Virginia. Sold in Cowan’s Nov. 18, 2005 auction for $3,120. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Cowan’s.