WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions

Little Black Sambo

This section provides a breakdown and analysis of various themes within the “Little Black Sambo” books, originally written by Helen Bannerman in 1898. This particular storybook is unique in that it has been rewritten, retold, and illustrated in a plethora of ways. Collectively we decided what shape this project should take and ultimately enjoyed the idea of stitching together a critical analysis of the “Little Black Sambo” books using images from an eclectic variety of books as primary sources; we pursued books in different languages, from different time periods, with different styles of illustration, and even looked at paraphernalia such as puzzles, pitchers, and dolls that depicted Little Black Sambo. Using the themes of representations of Blackness we studied in class as a starting point, we analyzed the various famous “scenes” of the Sambo narrative within the larger context of historic Black representation. We also chose a variety of different secondary texts to strengthen our claims.