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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Identification for "Colored People"

The status of Northern free blacks dramatically diminished during the nineteenth century. They had few rights and faced many social, political, and economic restrictions. State and federal regulations, social customs, and popular pressure relegated them to lower positions. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, they were often forced to prove their free status on demand, or have a white person vouch for them.

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