Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism

Two Black conjoined twins, the McCoys, are depicted in the center of a pamphlet cover in nice collared dress with a full skirt to her knees, stockings, and boots. A border of flowers surrounds the two, and the cover’s text reads: The History of the Caroline Twins,” above the center image with “told in ‘their own peculiar way’ by ‘one of them’” below the image. The left and right edges of the cover contain text running perpendicular to the top of the page that says “sold by their agents for their (the twins) special benefit, at 25 cents.” The page’s bottom states “published at the Buffalo Courier Printing House.”

Title: Title Page Image From Mille-Christine, History of the Carolina Twins: “Told in Their Own Peculiar Way” by “One of Them.” Buffalo: Buffalo Courier Printing House, 18–?.

Artist/Maker:

Date: ca. 1869

Source: North Carolina Collection, University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Copyright/Permissions: Public Domain

References: Boster, Dea H. African American Slavery and Disability: Bodies, Property and Power in the Antebellum South, 1800-1860. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Location(s): North Carolina, USA

Commentary: Conjoined twins Millie and Christine McCoy were born in North Carolina in 1851. Known as the “Carolina Twins,” they were subject to countless medical studies that focused on their reproductive organs and anus; their mother was studied as well. Additionally, the two were toured around the country as “medical curiosities,” and this image is the title page of a leaflet their “agents” sold to individuals who came to gawk at them.

Click here to listen to a response to this object by an Art Hx team member.

 

Art Hx