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Joshua Johnson manumission record, 1782 July 15

Johnson, Joshua, fl. 1796-1824

Portrait painter


Collection Information

Size: 1 Microfilm reel, 4 pages

Summary: 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 Note

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.


Lent for microfilming 1996 by the Maryland Historical Society.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Originals returned to lender after microfilming. The originals have now been digitized and are available through the Maryland Historical Society.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reel 5135 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.

How to Cite This Collection

Joshua Johnson manumission record, 1782 July 15. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.