Descendants Of Black Civil War Heroes Recreate Their Portraits In Painstakingly Accurate Fashion


Avid Bored Panda readers might remember the name Drew Gardner. The award-winning British photographer, who has spent nearly two decades tracking down descendants of notable people and asking them to pose for recreated portraits of their famous ancestors, was already featured on our website.

But at a certain point, he noticed that a big part of his subjects were white men. In 2020, Smithsonian Magazine commissioned a U.S. installment of Gardner’s project, featuring descendants of Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as a black descendant of Thomas Jefferson.

Since the white Englishman was aware of his own connection to the United States’ origins — his country abducted about three million Africans, chained and forcibly transported them across the Atlantic — he started wondering about the descendants of these enslaved people and how he could help bring their stories to light.

The starting point for the famous Gardner’s shoots is usually, “Are they descended from people the public would know?” but this was the first time he has flipped the script.

The photographer and his researcher, Ottawa Goodman, found the descendants of Black Civil War heroes and used his project to tell people, “These are the people you should really know about.”

More info: drewgardner.com | Instagram | Facebook

Photographer Drew Gardner and the descendants of the black American Civil War heroes have recreated their iconic 19th-century portraits

Image credits: Kristof Ramon

David Miles Moore Jnr, a drummer boy in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and Neikoye Flowers, the direct descendant of David Miles Moore

Image credits: Drew Gardner

Private Louis Troutman of the 108th USCT and Christopher W. Wilson, the direct descendant of Louis Troutman

Image credits: Drew Gardner

Sergeant Major Lewis Douglass of the 54th Massachusetts USCT and Austin Morris, the direct descendant of Frederick Douglass (father of Lewis)

Image credits: Drew Gardner

Harriet Tubman, who volunteered to help the Union Army gather intelligence behind Confederate enemy lines, and Deanne Stanford Walz, the great-niece of Harriet Tubman

Image credits: Drew Gardner

Corporal Andrew Jackson Smith, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, and Kwesi Bowman, the direct descendant of Andrew Jackson Smith

Image credits: Drew Gardner

Private Richard Oliver of the 20th USCT and Jared Miller, the direct descendant of Richard Oliver

Image credits: Drew Gardner

White Americans more often know if they’re related to anyone even slightly remarkable

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Image credits: Smithsonian Maga

Emmaline MacBeath, a genealogist at the collaborative genealogy website WikiTree, told Smithsonian Magazine there are far fewer user-generated family trees for African Americans than there are for white people.

“You have to be creative to find things using many different spellings, different birthdays,” she explained. “And you have to study entire communities at a time. On slave schedules, there were just tick marks on a page—there were no names. So, how do we take this list of 200 ages, with no other information, and turn it into a list of actual people?”

“These are families who have always been told, ‘American history has nothing to do with you,” Gardner told the same publisher.

“No one talks about the price their families paid, not only for their own freedom but for the future of America itself.”

Image credits: The Descendants

But black families tend to know far less about their ancestors

Image credits: The Descendants

Image credits: The Descendants

Image credits: The Descendants

Gardner also shared a few behind-the-scenes clips



That provide a glimpse into his creative process




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