Slave quarters, Helena, Arkansas
This photograph was taken in Helena, Arkansas while the Sixth Minnesota Volunteers were camped there. In 1860, enslaved people made up more than a quarter of Arkansas’ population. But in Phillips County, where this photograph was taken, enslaved people made up 60 percent of the total population.The inscription "slave quarters" is a bit deceving. Usually, "slave quarters" means the place where enslaved people lived on their owners' property. But this photo, taken in 1864, actually shows a row of shelters constructed by and for refugees. These runaway enslaved people, living within Union-controlled areas, were called contraband. In Helena, the Union Army was not equipped to house and feed the large groups of contraband, so many enslaved people built their own shelters.