Full Caption: Scipio Moorhead. ”Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston.” Frontispiece engraving to Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: Printed for A. Bell, 1773). Rare Book and Special Collections Division. LC-USZC4-5316. Full Caption: Scipio Moorhead. ”Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston.” Frontispiece engraving to Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London: Printed for A. Bell, 1773). Rare Book and Special Collections Division. LC-USZC4-5316.

On the other end of the spectrum from ”cookie-cutter” imagery to denote African American slaves, and perhaps indicating early abolitionist sentiments as well as the poet's brilliance, Phillis Wheatley was the subject of a rare printed image of an individual female slave—or, indeed, of any individual woman in America. Wheatley was brought to Boston from Africa as a small child, was given a liberal education by her owners, and was shown working on a poem—pensive and refined, and yet still identified as a ”Negro Servant”—in the frontispiece to her Poems. The tension between reality and symbol is manifest in images of African Americans.

see caption below