Ordinary black women, more than any other group in America, have been left out of history. 'In fact', as Darlene Clark Hine points out in her introduction to this powerful book, disseminating a visual history is more important with Black women, perhaps, than with any other single segment of the American population. We know all too well what this society believes black women look like. The stereotypes abound, from the Mammy to the maid, from the tragic mulatto to the dark temptress.America's perceptions of Black women are colored by a host of derogatory images and assumptions that proliferated in the aftermath of slavery and, with some permutations, exist even today. We have witnessed the distortion of the image of black women in movies and on television. We have seen black women's faces and bodies shamed and exploited. What we have not seen is the simple truth of their lives.This book will help to eradicate, or at least to dislodge, the many negative and dehumanizing stereotypes and caricatures of Black women that inhabit our consciousness. What do black women look like? What do they look like at work or with their families? What faces do they choose to present to the world and what faces has the world forced them to acquire? We can look in vain to most pictorial histories of America and even of African America for images of Black women. With noteworthy exceptions, even most monographs in Black women's history do not include photographic images. "The Face of Our Past" tells the story of black women in eight parts: Family Life, Work, Hair, Resistance, Class, Education, Religion and Community, and Inner Life. In addition to 302 carefully chosen images, the editors provide descriptive captions and quotations from letters, diaries, journals, and other sources.