Beneath the Underground: The Flight to Freedom. Icons used in advertisements for runaway slaves by the Planter's Advocate (P.G. Co., ca. 1850s)
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  • Woodcuts and other forms of graphic arts were one medium through which life in antebellum Maryland was represented. The woodcuts in this series, one for each month of the year, were taken from John Gruber's Hagerstown Town and Country Almanac published annually through most of the nineteenth century. Almanacs provided farmers with information on planting and harvesting crops, as well as home remedies and general advice. Gruber's Almanac was divided into twelve monthly sections, each one of which was headed by one of the woodcuts in this series.

    Supporting the almanac's claim to contain practical advice which would aid a farmer, the images showed an idealized picture of rural life in antebellum Maryland. They showed the progress of a small farmer working his land and reaping the benefits of his own labor. The world portrayed in these images was both masculine and white. Women were absent in these woodcuts, except when portrayed in the final scene of domestic tranquility as part the male farmer's ultimate reward for his labor. There were no African-Americans, either enslaved or free, portrayed in any of these woodcuts.

    Compare the well-ordered antebellum Maryland dipicted in these woodcuts with that portrayed by enslaved African-Americans in their narratives.

    January February March April May June
    July August September October November December

    December image from John Gruber's Hagerstown Town and Country Almanac, 1855-1896. MSA SC 4643-1-2

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