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C1875 Rare CDV (Carte de Visite) Photograph, Cojoined Twins

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C1875 Rare CDV (Carte de Visite) Photograph of the cojoined twins Millie and Christine McKoy, conjoined twins.

Artist: Unknown Photographer

Carte-de-visite photograph c1875

Published by W. L. Germons Temple of Art, 914 Arch Street, Philadelphia

Image size 10.5 x 6 cm


This carte-de-visite depicts Millie and Christine McKoy (1851-1912), better known to history as The Carolina Twins, The McKoy Sisters, The Two-Headed Nightingale, or simply as Millie-Christine. Born into slavery and seeded in tragedy, the remarkable life of Millie-Christine was, against all odds, one of victory over adversity.

The daughters of Jacob and Monemia McKoy, Millie and Christine were born conjoined at the lower spine. Within their first decade Millie-Christine were bought, sold, and stolen away from their family several times by showmen who profited off their public display at fairs throughout the United States, Canada, and Britain. Their last ‘rightful’ owner was Joseph P. Smith who, with the help of a private detective, rescued Millie-Christine from kidnappers in Liverpool and returned them to his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Millie-Christine were tutored in five languages and became accomplished pianists, singers, and dancers.

At the close of the Civil War in 1865, Millie-Christine returned to the show circuit and, with their newfound freedom, were finally able to draw their share of profits. By 1882, Millie-Christine commanded $25,000 for a season headlining Batcheller and Doris’s Great Inter-Ocean Railroad Show. The twins were generous with their fortune. They bought land for their family, organized a school for African American children, and gave money anonymously to Shaw University, Bennet College, Johnson C. Smith College, Henderson Institute, and Palmer Institute (Martell, p. 263).

Millie-Christine fell into obscurity for many years until Joanne Martell, a former court reporter, stumbled upon their story and published Millie-Christine: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (2000), to which this entry is indebted.

Millie-Christine’s remarkable life is now the subject of new scholarship on art, and poetry.