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Eli Hampton journal, 1843-1852

119 pages

The Hampton collection consists of a journal written by Eli Hampton, an Orthodox Quaker minister from Chester County, Pennsylvania. The journal records religious subjects and the spiritual concerns of the minister.

The Hampton journals are an excellent record of the spiritual concerns of a Quaker minister in the near aftermath of the great period of Quaker schisms. The entries are fairly regular, though not daily, and vary in length from brief notes ("attended meeting") to very long passages, nearly all on religious subjects. The attribution of the journal is based on the appearance on the front cover of the name Eli Hampton written in the hand of the author, and the presence within of a copy of a letter signed by Eli Hampton.

The periodic rise and fall in Hampton's mood and the insecurities he had in his ability to receive the Light are among the most interesting aspects of the journal. He often writes that he feels weighed down by the burden of spiritual duties and concerns, and by doubts about his own worth. Typical of many entries is the one for February 16th, 1848: "I felt destitute and forsaken by all both spiritually and temporally and at times ready to give out all hopes of overcoming these frailties of human nature."

Even when his spirits were raised, as after speaking at meeting, Hampton felt the weight of great emotions. "[A]t meting to day in a goodly frame of mind wherein I think I was blest with the presence of the devine master with this language in my mind; can it bee possible that the lord has chosen mee as an instrument to awaken others to a sence of their one duty in obidience to the law and testimony of devine light on their one understanding; for I know that I have nothing to bost of but my one infermaties which are great and many..." (1848 June 1). The burden of not speaking when having received the Light was also crushing to Hampton. Following a funeral, during which he felt compelled to speak, but held back, Hampton wrote: "I had to suffer like unto a little child that had just been corrected by its earthly parent and that through such severity that its hart was almost ready to burst with grief..." (1849 March 13).

The political and moral issues of the day occasionally figure in Hampton's diary. While not evincing any uncommonly strong zeal, Hampton was apparently an opponent of slavery and the use of "spiritous liquors." His reservations are clear, though: "the query arose in my mind what good has [the Antislavery] committee done I can see none in reallety" (1848 July 27). A particularly interesting incident occurred on August 13th, 1848, when Hampton and other members of the meeting attempted to attend the "colored meeting," but were barred from doing so by the congregation. He writes "not all their congrigation being preasant at that time [they] ware not willing to admit us in their meeting hous." Hampton and Friends slept under a nearby shed and "delivered our testimony amongst them I trust to good satisfaction."

Since Hampton's religious concerns permeate nearly every entry, the spiritual content of this diary has been only selectively indexed, with the longer or more thoroughly expressed entries noted.


Elizabeth Rous Comstock papers, 1740-1929 (majority within 1860-1880)

0.5 linear feet

The Elizabeth Rous Comstock papers contain letters and writings related to Comstock's family, her Quaker ministry, and her social reform activities. The letters span her entire career with the greatest concentration of correspondence centering on her work with the Kansas freedmen's program and her family life. In addition to the Elizabeth Comstock material, the collection includes content related to her daughter Caroline, her grandchildren, and papers related to the Kempton family.

The Elizabeth Rous Comstock papers (282 items) contain letters and writings related to Comstock's family, her Quaker ministry, and her social reform activities. The letters span her entire career with the greatest concentration of correspondence centering on her work with the Kansas Freedmen's Association and on her family life. In addition to the Elizabeth Comstock material, the collection contains content related to her daughter Caroline, her grandchildren, and to the Kempton family.

The Correspondence series (151 items) contains 123 items related to Elizabeth Comstock and her family. The bulk of the collection consists of letters written by or addressed to Elizabeth Comstock between 1847 and 1890.

These letters fall into roughly two groups:
  • Elizabeth’s correspondence with her friends, acquaintances, and immediate family, particularly with her husband, daughter, and sister Caroline.
  • Correspondence related to Elizabeth’s work with social reforms and social justice, primarily concerning her relief work in Kansas in 1879 and 1880.

The family and friends correspondence primarily relates to everyday life, such as work, homemaking, visiting, family life; contemporary issues such as the Civil War and slavery; and news of friends and family, including illnesses, marriages, and deaths. Elizabeth wrote many of the letters, which document her perspective on her work, her marriage and relationship with her husband, and on religion and the Society of Friends. Elizabeth’s preaching, charitable work, and travels are often mentioned in these letters, including her trip across the Atlantic in early 1884. These letters cover both theoretical discussions of religious topics and discussions of the Society of Friends, its policies, and its schools. A subset of these letters regards Caroline De Greene’s serious illness and "mental suffering" in 1870, which may have been related to childbirth. Also of note is a letter from Elizabeth Steere that describes her experiences living in the remote Minnesota Territory (December 9, 1856).

The second group of Elizabeth's correspondence mainly consists of letters between Elizabeth and Joshua Longstreth Bailey, a dry goods merchant and philanthropist, who assisted her in her work with the Kansas Freedmen’s Relief Association from 1879 to 1881. Elizabeth discusses the logistics of supplying newly arrived African Americans with food, shelter, and a means of subsistence, and relates information about the migrants and their experiences in both the South and in Kansas. Elizabeth shares, in depth, her perspective on this large migration, which she refers to as "the Exodus." An item of note is a letter from John W. Snodgrass proposing a plan to buy land to aid resettled former slaves in Kansas (May 3, 1881). Other items concern Comstock's work to improve the lives of former slaves and prisoners during the Civil War, including a letter from Ed Howland who wrote to Comstock of a "plan before Congress to change the whole plan of taking care of colored people" (February 3, 1865). B. Dornblaser, the warden at the Illinois State Penitentiary, wrote to Comstock about pardoning Frederick Marx from Kentucky who was "tricked" into buying a stolen mule (April 5, 1865). She also communicated with Thomas Story Kirkbride, superintendent of the Philadelphia Hospital for the Insane (March 6, 1870).

The collection also contains material related to her daughter Caroline and to Elizabeth's grandchildren. Much of this is correspondence between Caroline and members of her family, regarding news, daily life, traveling and visiting, religion, work, and school. Of interest are letters of reference for Caroline "Calla" De Greene in support of continuing her education and recommending her for positions teaching French and German at the college level (May 2, 1893, July 11 and October 5, 1898, May 10, 1905, and March 19, 1906).

The Kempton Family material consists of 26 letters, which largely concern religious issues, everyday life, and news of family and friends. These include the 7 earliest items in the series, from 1827-1828, with the rest scattered throughout.

The Commonplace Book and Diary series (2 items) contains an 1839 commonplace book (52 pages) of poems and essays inscribed as belonging to Charity Kempton. Many entries center on the theme of a loved one leaving on a sea voyage. These include passages called "Seamen's Hymn," "Matrimonial Chart," and "The Old Oaken Bucket." The second item is Elizabeth Comstock's 34-page travel diary (8 blank pages) during the summer of 1878. It contains Biblical verses, brief descriptions of places she visited, notes on her activities, and notes on religious services she attended.

The Poems Series (10 items) contains handwritten copies of poems, all of which are religious in nature. Included among the 9 unattributed poems are a cautionary poem on dancing and drinking, a 16-page poem called "The Ministry of Angels," and a poem entitled "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: A Dialogue in Verse." The single attributed poem is a copy of William Cowper's "God Moves in Mysterious Ways."

The Corrections for Caroline Hare's Life and Letters of Elizabeth Comstock series (1 item) is 7 pages of notes and corrections for Caroline Hare's biography of Elizabeth Comstock (see the Related Materials section for information on the Clements' copy of this book). The comments range from grammatical edits to insights into personal events and her ministerial efforts.

The Miscellaneous Writings series (25 items) contains non-correspondence material including: religious quotations, miscellaneous notes jotted down on scraps of paper, Friends meeting minutes, recipes, and essays on religion and marriage. Most of these items are unattributed but are likely from Elizabeth Comstock, Chastity Kempton, and others. Of note is a three-page item containing "Dying expressions of Soldiers," including the last words of a soldier on the Battlefield of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862), and those of a man about to be hung in Nashville, Tennessee. This series also contains instructions for refining sugar, and remedies for common maladies, such as heartburn, dysentery, snake bites, and nausea, "By the celibrated Indian Doctor John Mackintosh, of the Cherokee Nation; None of which have ever before been communicated to the world" (undated).

The Documents series (11 items) contains various official documents related to the Comstock and Kempton families.

Of note are:
  • Elizabeth Comstock's ancestors’ 1740 marriage covenant between William and Mary Moore
  • A deed from Isaac Steer to Aaron Kempton in Woodstock, Michigan (1845)
  • A handwritten pass from Philip Henry Sheridan allowing Comstock and her companion Mary B. Bradford to travel by rail to Baltimore, through enemy lines (December 9. 1864)
  • A document entitled "The Colored Exodus. A Statement of Monies Received from Various States, Canada, and England.
  • Elizabeth's sister Lydia Rous' last will and testament (March 5, 1889).

The Accounts series (6 items) contains 3 lists of books to be sent to various Friends libraries and associations, 1 list of donated goods such as fabric and clothes addressed to E. Smith of Victoria Road, an 1875 bill for goods, and an item documenting money owed with interest for an unspecified purpose.

The Printed Ephemera series (24 items) includes miscellaneous printed material: passes to cross Union and Confederate lines during the Civil War; 8 "Bible Reading Leaflets;" two Quaker related essays; a fragment of a book labeled "Self-Communion" (pages 3-10); 4 poems (prayers); 4 event cards; and a catalogue for mechanical farming equipment. The collection also holds one of Comstock's hymn books entitled, Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs (Words Only) , by P.P. Bliss and Ira Sankey. The handmade cover is reinforced with a portion of a postcard stamped March 9, 1878 (95 small pages of hymns).

The Newspaper Clippings series (50 items) is composed of printed items related to the Kansas Freedman's Relief program. These include several essays and articles written by Comstock and her colleagues, as well as newspaper stories about Comstock's activities aiding African American "refugees" in Kansas, who were suffering from sickness, poverty, and unemployment. Many of these include pleas for charity. The clippings come from newspapers across America, as well as from England.

The Prints and Photographs series (8 items) consists of 7 photographs, including 2 of Elizabeth and 1 of her daughter Caroline, one print of the residence of R. Hathaway in Rollin, Michigan.

The photographs depict:
  • Elizabeth Comstock, taken in Philadelphia for De Greene, undated
  • Elizabeth Comstock portrait, hand colored and in a small square wooden frame (Behind his photograph, as part of the backing, is a small picture of 7 angels with trumpets, clipped from a postcard).
  • Carrie Wright De Greene O'Harrow, 1881
  • Freddie Hare at age 4 ½, August 1874, labeled "for Carrie" (Carte-de-visite)
  • Unlabeled picture of a girl, undated
  • Woman reading (likely Caroline Hare), accompanying the letter dated February 22, 1882 (Carte-de-visite taken by J. Cooper)
  • A portrait of a woman in a small metal frame accompanying the letter from March 16, 1870.
Other Images include:
  • A machine catalogue with images of: Cooks Sugar Evaporator, Cross-Cut sawing machine, a victor mill, vertical mill with sweep below, and a back-geared mill
  • Ink sketch of Caroline Hare’s home in letter, February 13, 1870
  • An engraved portrait of Comstock in a newspaper clipping from early 1881

Joshua Danforth papers, 1832-1862

69 items (0.25 linear feet)

This collection contains the correspondence of Joshua Noble Danforth, a Presbyterian minister and agent for the American Colonization Society.

The Joshua Danforth papers (69 items) contain 63 letters, 2 issues of The African Repository, and 4 miscellaneous items, all concerning Joshua Noble Danforth, a Presbyterian minister and agent for the American Colonization Society. The bulk of the collection documents Danforth's activities as agent for the Society from 1832-1834. Agents stationed in other cities described the Society's endeavors and their reception in New England, while communications from Ralph Gurley, at the society's Washington headquarters, addressed the society's activities at a national level. The letters concern conditions of colonization and education in Liberia, freed slaves, legislative plans, contemporary attitudes toward the society and its goals, fundraising, society administration, and the appointment of officers.

Letters in this collection are from, among many others, such notable people as George Grennell, a U.S. Congressman and trustee of Amherst College; Samuel Lathrop, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts as well as a lawyer and Massachusetts State Senator; David L. Morril, a U.S. Senator from and governor of New Hampshire; and Samuel Wells, who later became governor of Maine. One particularly noteworthy letter is from, as Danforth writes on the cover, "a Negro signing himself ‘Justice’ complaining of the [American Colonization] society.” In this letter, from Charleston on July 8, 1832, the author asks Danforth: "Did Christ die for the Black man?" and elegantly writes: "Sir, I claim not equal rank with you for talent, and my information is verry limited: but I do fear that you are honestly engaged in a most unholy cause; no more no less than at driving (or attempting to drive; for it can never be effected) almost 3,000,000 of natives of this soil to the sickly clime of Africa."

In addition to Danforth's professional letters are approximately 13 personal letters to Danforth, his wife, and his family from various correspondents, including Ralph Gurley. Personal correspondents for Danforth and his wife include their siblings and other family members. The bulk of the collection's personal correspondence comes after 1834.

Printed material consists of two issues of The African Repository, the publication of the American Colonization Society. The 1852 issue (volume 28) is signed by Danforth. The second issue is from 1862 (volume 38).

The Miscellaneous series contains undated writings including a "Sermon for the Blacks," a list of goals of the Colonization movement, and a letter to the editor of the Gazette entitled The Way to Do Certain Things.


Lydia Maria Child papers, 1835-1894

90 items (0.25 linear feet)

The Lydia Maria Child papers consist of ninety mostly personal letters by Lydia Child; the bulk of them were written to her wealthy abolitionist and philanthropic friends in Boston, the Lorings.

The collection consists of ninety mostly personal and often playfully provocative letters dating from approximately 1835 to 1877. Most of them are from Lydia Maria Child to her wealthy Boston abolitionist and philanthropic friends, the Lorings, and date from 1839 to 1859. They thus concentrate on the period of Maria Child's distress with the institutional politics of antislavery, her editorship of the Standard, her growing attachment to New York Bohemia, and the publication of Letters From New York. Many of the letters deal simply with her day to day finances, friends, and family.

These letters chart Maria Child's loss of "pleasure" in "anti Slavery" until the martyrdom of John Brown renewed her "youth and strength." They witness her antagonism to the aggressive tactics of elements of the American Anti-Slavery Society and her defense of the "Old Organization." It is in terms of intra-organizational criticism that she justifies her job at the Standard despite reservations. Later, however, the letters witness her declining commitment to pacifism. They describe a remarkable fearlessness to the danger of the mobs in New York, and they note the challenges that the Standard faced. They speak of Maria Child's withdrawal from cliques of reformers and antislavery organizations, though clearly her hermitage was constantly broken by meetings with the likes of Catherine Beecher and Margaret Fuller. Throughout, she declares a radical social egalitarianism while demonstrating a contemporary racial paternalism and liberalism. Of particular interest concerning antislavery and race are:

  • (1) To George Kimball, Jan 1835, on Texas and the freemen plantation in Mexico
  • (3) To Louisa L., April 1839, concerning the discord within the movement
  • (6) To "Nonny", Dec 1840, of a story about "our colored man... our retainers"
  • (8) To Ellis L., May 1841, about guilt for accepting money for editing the Standard
  • (9) To Ellis L., June 1841, where she insinuates the A.A.S.S. with proslavery form
  • (13) To Ellis L., May 1842, about the Boston and Philadelphia cliques and N.Y. mobs
  • (17) To Louisa L., May 1843, about the New York Letters and Angelina Grimké
  • (48) To Ellis L., December 1852, with reference to Charles Sumner and Catherine Beecher
  • (57) To Louisa L., October 1856, about Kansas and Frémont
  • (69) To Oliver Johnson (A.A.S.), Dec. 1859, on John Brown's execution
  • (70) To William Cutler, July 1862, on the questions of wage slavery and social equality
  • (72) To Anna L., Oct (1871?), on a "mulatto girl" asking for handouts.

More peripherally the letters are witness to the homosocial support networks of Victorian America despite their author's exceptional ability to transcend the limitations imposed on her sex. Of the latter she was painfully aware, complaining here of the impropriety of a "young lady" staying at the Globe Hotel, determining to "always avoid belonging to any association of men" because of her "experience," noting how her critics preferred to attack her as a woman rather than deal with the facts, how some were shocked to meet a woman like her, and complaining about her gendered financial liabilities despite her disfranchisement. Indeed, she detaches gender stereotypes from biological sex as she writes repeatedly of the "small female minds of both sexes." Writing domestic guides for women and attending Emerson's lectures on domestic life never reconciled Maria Child to domestic work, of which she often complains here. On the other hand, she seemed to relish romance and also writes of her caring for a "wild Irish girl," and her poor niece Maria, and her taking in of Dolores, a poor Spanish woman, as her companion. Particularly relevant are her letters: (67) To Louisa L., December 1857, a story of two babies engaged in the struggle of the sexes; (71) To Anna L., July 1871, on suffrage for societal efficiency and female education.

Lydia Maria Child's letters also chart her critical attitude to religious and social injustice in general. This is born out in accounts of specific incidents of charity to orphans abandoned in the Tombs. Calling Angelina Grimké a "flaming Millerite," Maria Child also makes fun of her patron Isaac T. Hopper's Quakerism, claims to prefer the "Lord Pope" to the "Lord Presbyters," and "shocked... Christian piety by saying if Mendelssohn were a Jew, I hoped I should get into the Jew's Quarter in heaven." Her "dislike to respectable Puritanical character" crops up repeatedly in these letters. In one letter she jokingly claims her "right to be damned." She praises Plato as a forefather of "modern socialists" and writes of the world of the spirits and of her "bigotted Swedenborgian[ism]." In terms of her pacifism she recounts an argument she had with Samuel Colt over "his battery." Her letters moreover present a consistent picture of her preference for the soul-inspired music of the underdog against anything machine-like, or tainted by the "diseased ambition of wealth and show... and respectability." She criticizes the "ruffianly Forrest" and the Astor Place Riots for demagoguery and violence while repeatedly noting the blindness of aristocracy and arguing for a world in which "all ranks, and sexes, and sects, and barriers of all sorts," would be ignored. In an elusive search for freedom she claims pleasure in acting "contrary to statutes made and provided."


Maria M. Churchill journals, 1845-1848

3 volumes

Maria M. Churchill's daily entries in her journal provide insights into the emotional and intellectual life of a middle-class woman in the mid-1800s.

Maria Churchill wrote faithfully, nearly daily, in her diary throughout the three years represented, 1845 to 1848. Literate, intelligent, and capable, Maria retained an avid interest in the intellectual and social world beyond her small Vermont town. She was an avid reader of a wide array of books, periodicals, and newspapers, and was active in her community, attending lectures, meetings, and gala events, and discussing current events. Churchill's diary provides an interesting insight into a woman's view of the bonds of affection between husband and wife and parent and child. She considered herself lucky to have a husband who showed such strong interest in his wife and child, and the pleasure she took in assisting her husband in running their store is evident throughout. As important in Churchill's emotional life as her husband and child, however, were her connections with other women, friends as well as family members, and these bonds seem to have increased during her marriage, rather than decreased, maintained through constant visits and letters.

The diary covers a period of high drama in Churchill's life, beginning less than a year after her marriage, and including the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth, the protracted illness and death of her husband, and her entry into self-sustaining widowhood. She provides only the outlines of her daily activities -- few entries in themselves are of sufficient length to reveal much about her thoughts and motives -- however her habit of writing daily provides a density of coverage that makes the diary valuable for understanding the basic lineaments of her emotional and intellectual life, as well as her daily routine. Before the birth of her daughter, Churchill seems to have been careful to record her reading, her visits with friends and neighbors, her reactions to major political events (elections, the declaration of the War with Mexico, slavery), and the presence of lectures and classes in town. Beyond this, her adjustments to marriage, birth, illness, and death and her growing relationships with husband, child, and the community of women creates a complex view of the life of a middle class woman living in small town Vermont early in the Victorian era.

For the most part, diary entries become much briefer and more similar in content after about December, 1846 -- three months after her husband's death. Maria was occupied with running her business and caring for Elizabeth, and may have had somewhat less time for socializing outside of the singing school and church.

The diary is only selectively indexed, with no notice of the numerous entries that concern daily domestic tasks or social activities (visits, etc.).


Preston-Woodward correspondence, 1845-1858

78 items

The Preston Woodward correspondence contains letters by Paul S. Preston and Jackson Woodward, mainly discussing political topics such as the Mexican-American War, the Locofocos, and elections.

The Preston-Woodward correspondence contains letters written to Jackson Woodward by Paul S. Preston and business letters addressed to Woodward. The earliest items in the collection relate to Nathaniel A. Woodward of Bethany, Pennsylvania. Of these early letters, two from 1836 (also addressed to Jacob Faatz and Lucius Collins) discuss the election of delegates to amend the Pennsylvania state constitution and, to a lesser extent, national politics prior to the 1836 presidential election. The bulk of the collection pertains to Jackson Woodward, a lawyer from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, including incoming business-related correspondence and a personal letter from his brother, W. Woodward. Of particular interest within the collection are 58 letters composed by Paul S. Preston, as well as two by Jackson Woodward, discussing contemporary politics and prominent national and local political figures. Preston, who lived in Stockport, Pennsylvania, often took a scathing and humorous tone, as in his letter of November 29, 1845, in which he claimed that "since the day that the iron willed Tennessean, your illustrious namesake [Andrew Jackson] dressed despotism in the garb of Democracy, there is very little difference between an Emperor and a President."

A number of Preston's letters criticize the Locofocos, a radical wing of the Democratic Party founded in 1835 to protect the interests of workers and oppose monopolies and tariffs. Preston frequently characterized them as hypocritical, as in a letter of February 18, 1847, in which he compared the high salaries paid to Locofocoism's "panderers" and low wages earned by American soldiers fighting in Mexico. Preston also praised the Whig generals in the Mexican-American war as aggressive fighters (October 28, 1847), and included political poetry in several of his letters. His letter of January 2, 1850, contains a humorous petition in verse. Scattered letters concern presidential and midterm elections, and a lengthy letter of January 22, 1851, compares the attitudes of Yankees and Southerners, offering the opinion that the Southerners underestimate their dependence on slaves. On January 7, 1851, Preston criticized the Fugitive Slave Law and expressed his unwillingness "to be turned into a hound to run down a runaway negro."

Although the letters provide a much clearer picture of Preston than Woodward, the two men seemed to have held differing opinions on many issues, including slavery. In one of the two items he wrote, dated September 23, 1852, Woodward defended the Fugitive Slave Law and called abolitionism a "most mischievous, damnable doctrine."


Quaker collection, 1700-1888

113 items

The Quaker Collection consists of miscellaneous letters, diaries, and documents relating to the religious and social history of the Society of Friends in America during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Quaker collection consists of miscellaneous letters, diaries, and documents related to the religious and social history of the Society of Friends in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. These items offer insights into Quaker's daily activities and concerns, such as family life, education, and attending meetings, as well as their participation in various social reform movements, such as abolition, treatment of Native Americans, prison improvements, temperance, and pacifism. The collection also documents internal divergences of American Quakerism in the 19th century, particularly the social and doctrinal disputes that culminated in the Hicksite and Wilburite schisms.

Among the collection's notable items:
  • 1707: A manuscript copy of the death warrant of William Leddra, the last of four Quakers (including Mary Dyer) executed in Massachusetts Bay colony for their religious beliefs
  • July 26, 1755: A letter from Alexander Colden to Sir William Johnson voicing frustration with Quakers who refuse to support the war effort in Pennsylvania, and an announcement of General Braddock's defeat
  • August 4-12 and 17, 1761: Two accounts, one by an anonymous woman, of Quaker presence at Treaty negotiations held at Easton, Pennsylvania, between the government of Pennsylvania and the Six Nations tribes. Discussed are the negotiations, Quaker-Indian interactions, and the role of Quaker women in the Society
  • [After 1770]: An account by an anonymous author of a conference with Native Americans, mostly of the Minnisink Tribe
  • October 13, 1829: A letter from Phoebe Post Willis of Jericho, New York, to Isaac Post on the death of John Hicks and strife between Orthodox and Hicksite Quakers
  • March 10, 1843: A letter from Ethan Foster of Westerly, Rhode Island, to Thomas B. Gould on Wilburite-Gurneyite strife in his local meeting, and the disownment of Wilbur
  • [After 1863 July]: A letter describing a meeting between Abraham Lincoln and five Quaker prisoners of war, who had been forced into the Confederate army, captured by the Union, and held at Fort Delaware
  • Various dates: Reports, minutes, and epistles from yearly friends meetings in America and Great Britain

Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers, 1848-1868

100 items

The Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers consist of documents generated by the society as well as correspondence to and from various members of the society about slavery, the conditions of freemen, and other progressive issues.

The Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society papers contain only a small portion of what must at one time have been a much larger collection. As a society devoted to the immediate abolition of slavery, the antislavery movement forms the context of most of the correspondence in the collection, but the members of the society were individually and collectively involved in the education of freedmen and in other movements, including women's rights. As a result, the collection offers a broad perspective on the mentality and activity of a small group of progressive northern women involved in the reform of what they saw as the worst inequities in American society.

The Society maintained contact with several national-level leaders of the antislavery movements, and provided important financial support to Frederick Douglass, in particular. The nine letters from Douglass in the collection all relate to the assistance provided for publication of his newspaper or are requests from him for direct aid to fugitive slaves en route to Canada. A particularly affecting letter is one that he wrote from England in 1860, while on an antislavery tour. Harriet Tubman, Beriah Green, Lewis Tappan, George B. Cheever, and Gerrit Smith also appear in the collection, either as correspondents or subjects of letters. Among the more interesting of these letters is one from John Stewart, probably a free black man, addressed to Harriet Tubman; a letter from Moses Anderson, also African-American, writing about the importance of Uncle Tom's Cabin in shaping his political consciousness; Jacob Gibb's letter of introduction for a fugitive slave; and William Watkins' report on the number of fugitive slaves that have passed through Rochester into Canada in the year 1857.

British support for the Society was crucial in keeping it viable in the late 1850s, and is documented through the letters of Julia Griffiths Crofts (Leeds, England); Sarah Plummer (Dalkeith, Scotland), and Maria Webb (Dublin, Ireland). The fund-raising efforts of the society can be tracked partly through the list of goods donated for a Festival (1:77), a small collection of ephemera relating to British antislavery societies (1:82), and a list of donations from those British societies (1:28). The most significant item for tracking finances, however, is the account book for the Society (2:20), which covers its entire history. The secretaries of the Society recorded the complete finances of the organization, and provided lists of speakers at their annual events, and carefully delineated money remitted to individual fugitive slaves. Included at the end of the collection are a set of photocopies of the manuscripts (2:21) and supplemental information about the Society and its members, provided by the University of Rochester (2:22).

Freedmen's education was a major concern of the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society, and is discussed extensively by several correspondents. The single most frequent correspondent in the collection is Julia A. Wilbur, writing while working with freedmen in Alexandria, Va., 1862-1865. Wilbur writes long and vivid letters describing the miserable living conditions found among the freedmen, their want of clothing and shelter, and she describes several individual cases. Wilbur also met and became familiar with the renowned ex-slave and author, Harriet Jacobs. The situation that Wilbur describes in Virginia verges on the chaotic, with corruption at the highest levels, dissension among those in charge of contraband matters, and many in the military reluctant or unwilling to take any responsibility. She was a perceptive observer of the progress of the war, Southern citizenry, and of the destruction that the war had inflicted upon Virginia. Her official reports to the Society, which are more general and less pointed than her private correspondence, were published in the Society's published annual reports (2:1-13).

In addition to Wilbur's letters, there are six other items pertaining to freedmen's education. Three letters from G. W. Gardiner and one document signed by Lewis Overton, 1862-63, relate to the work of the Colored School, founded for freedmen at Leavenworth, Kansas, and both letters from Daniel Breed, 1863-64, include discussions of the Rochester School for Freedmen in Washington, D.C., named for the Society whose money founded it.

The printed items in the collection include fourteen of the seventeen known annual reports of the Society, a report from the Toronto Ladies' Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored fugitives (2:14), and circulars from two British societies (2:15-16). Three issues of Frederick Douglass' Paper (October 2, 1851, February 19 1858, and July 1, 1859) and one issue of The North Star (April 14, 1848) are included in Oversize Manuscripts. An issue of the Christian Inquirer (New York, July 24, 1858), having no direct relation to the Rochester Society, was transferred to the Newspapers Division. Finally, in two letters written in 1859 and 1861, Rebecca Bailey discusses her father William Bailey's newspaper, The Free South.


Thomas Clarkson manuscript, Lettres nouvelles sur le commerce de la Côte de Guinée, 1789-1790

162 pages

The Thomas Clarkson manuscript, arranged in 13 letters, addresses various aspects of the slave trade in the region that lies between the Gambia and Senegal Rivers.

The manuscript, arranged in 13 letters, addresses various aspects of the slave trade in the region that lies between the Gambia and Senegal Rivers, the region that historically comprised the three "Kingdoms" of Cayor, Sin and Sallum, and bordered by the "Kingdoms" of the Wolof (Oualo) and Bambara. From this region, Clarkson estimated an annual trade of 2,240 slaves, of whom approximately 1,790 passed through the French Fort St. Louis and 450 through Gorée. Like Mungo Park, Clarkson found that the most common method employed to capture slaves is "pillage," or the organization of forces by the King of a region for secret raids on neighboring villages from which men and women are kidnapped.

Clarkson's letters include geographic and, to a degree, ethnographic notes on the region, plus detailed information on the means of acquisition, transport, and handling of enslaved individuals in Africa and on the Middle Passage. While Clarkson is strongly concerned with the moral issues raised by the slave-trade, the manuscript is designed partially to sway the opinion of politicians and often assumes an informational tone. He constructs his narrative so that the moral issues arise "naturally" from a consideration of the "facts" presented.

The manuscript contains nine illustrations, including a map of the region under study, several illustrations of implements used to restrain captives, two hand colored copper-plate engravings of African scenes, and a printed version of Clarkson's well-known diagrammatic cross section of a slave ship. There is at least one reference in the text to an illustration no longer present.

The association of this manuscript with Mirabeau is primarily circumstantial, and there are a number of differences between this version and the loose translation published in 1791. On the supporting side, however, a slip of paper in contemporary hand notes "title and table of contents in the hand of Mentelle," referring to Edmé Mentelle, close associate of Mirabeau. Secondly, one page of notes (p. 1) appears to indicate "cet oeuvrage appartient au Citoyen Mentelle," though Mentelle is strongly effaced, and makes reference to comments on the text by Geoffroy de Villeneuve. In the published English language version of his letters to Mirabeau, Clarkson cites Villeneuve, aide-de-camp to the Governor of Gorée, as his source of information for the African sections.


Warder-Haines papers, 1789-1854 (majority within 1822-1854)

0.5 linear feet

The Warder-Haines papers (178 items) contain letters collected by Elizabeth Haines Warder, a Quaker from southeastern Pennsylvania, concerning her extended family and friends, primarily between the 1820s and 1850s. Much of the collection consists of letters between the women of the families concerning sickness, death, childbirth, and personal matters, as well as the anti-slavery movement, science and medicine, and Quakerism in Germantown, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati.

The Warder-Haines papers (178 items) contain letters collected by Elizabeth Haines Warder, a Quaker from southeastern Pennsylvania, concerning her extended family and friends, primarily between the 1820s and 1850s. Much of the collection consists of letters between the women of the families (mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, and friends). The women discussed family issues such as sickness and health, death, childbirth, and personal matters, as well as the anti-slavery movement, science and medicine, and Quakerism in Germantown, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. Dr. John A. Warder contributed twelve letters, all written to his wife Elizabeth during her visits to family members, and during his travels as physician and lecturer in medicine. These relate to everyday family matters and rarely touch on his professional and scientific interests. Topics of note include descriptions of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, written by family members during their sojourn in the winter of 1836-1837. The family also discussed a cholera, or possibly typhoid fever, epidemic in Cincinnati from 1850 to 1852.

Other items of note:
  • October 30, 1798: Sarah Hartshorne of New York to Elizabeth Bowne concerning sickness and recovery
  • July 11, 1828: Oliver Armstrong to Jeremiah and John A. Warder containing a description of Springfield, Ohio
  • April 18, 1830: Elizabeth B. Haines to her mother Jane Haines reporting on social events in New York City, such as a party that lasted until 3am and visiting the American Museum
  • February 14, 1832: Elizabeth W. Janney to Ann Aston Warder concerning family news and charitable donations, including $300 to a "Black orphan shelter"
  • February 16, 1832: Caroline Cadbury to Ann Aston Warder containing family news, including ailments and treatments of many family members, and a mention of her children enjoying Peter Parley's 1st Book of History
  • March 7, 1832: John H. Warder to Jeremiah Warder reporting that sister Betsey took in a "runaway negro" but found out that she had "run away from Justice instead of Slavery[.] They have so much difficulty in procuring servants they think but to keep her until they meet with another"
  • July 26, 1832: Benjamin H. Warder to Jeremiah Warder concerning the opinions in Philadelphia about President Jackson, and a cholera epidemic in New York that is a "blessing in disguise in clearing off a mass of pollution--It has been very fatal in the neighborhood of the five points, occupied principally by prostitutes…"
  • September 1, 1832: Benjamin H. Warder to Jeremiah Warder containing treatments for cholera and typhoid fever
  • October 29 and December 6, 1832: Letters from James, John H., and Benjamin Warder to Jeremiah Warder discussing Andrew Jackson's presidential reelection chances, Jackson's attack on the United States Bank and South Carolina's reaction to the speech, and various Quaker affairs
  • October 1834: Remarks about the death of Reuben Haines on a funeral invitation from Walter R. Johnson
  • December 3, 1836: Friend to Ann A. Warder in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, warning her to "guard thy tongue- thy looks- even thy thoughts since they will be known through thy frank nature as if the spies of the inquisition were around thee- let Slavery and all its evils- Jacksonism and Van Bur-moral degradation and all other evils- pass unnoticed- for although- those outlaws- may not attack thee- yet the Doctor must pay the penalty of your impudence…"
  • December 23, 1836: [Ann A. Warden] to Jane B. Haines, containing a humorous descriptions of her family's squalid living conditions in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • March 3, 1837: John A. Warder and Elizabeth Haines Warder to John Haines describing the relationship between slaves and their masters and the workings of the cotton gin
  • December 25, 1837: John Warder to Ann Haines, discussing Christmas presents and details of her young daughter's clothing
  • September 20, 1838: J.B. Haines to Elizabeth Haines Warder discussing family news and describing their garden and the viewing of an eclipse
  • November 20, 1838: Ann Haines to Elizabeth Haines Warder with a description of a "new method of walking upon water, by means of a small balloon attached to the body" invented in Germany, and a discussion of Democratic Congress member Charles Ingersol
  • April 13, 1840: J.S. Haines to Elizabeth Haines Warder with a description of an experiment with "Jacoby's batteries" and the process of electroplating with copper
  • October 11, 1840: Sister to Elizabeth Haines Warder with a mention of cousin Ann, who is a member of the Liberia School Association
  • August 16, 1842: Elizabeth B. Warder to Ann Haines containing a description of an attempted hypnotism, then termed "neurology" and "phreno-mesmirism"
  • November 2, 1842: Elizabeth Haines Warden to Ann Haines, concerning Henry Clay and John Crittenden visiting Cincinnati, searching for fossils, and seeing a "beautiful Exhibition of Deguerin [Daguerreian] Pictures accompanied by fine music" (early photography)
  • January 11, 1843: William Warder to his brother John Warder discussing Transcendentalist philosophy and "eclecticism"
  • March 19, 1843: Charles Comte de Miollis to Jane B. Haines describing his visits to General Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage
  • July 15, 1843: Ann A. Warder to Ann Haines concerning her sons strong anti-slavery beliefs
  • February 12, 1844: Mary W. Rannels to Ann Haines about practicing hypnosis and witnessing "the evils of slavery" in St. Louis, Missouri
  • March 18, 1844: John A. Warder and Elizabeth Warder to Ann Haines discussing their opinions of a new Charles Dickens book entitled A Christmas Carol
  • February 15, 1847: Ann A. Warder to Ann Haines concerning travel in the Mid-West, slavery in St. Louis and the "delusive dogma of the slaveholder"
  • January 21, 1849: Jane Haines to Robert B. Haines concerning an expedition of Quakers to California during the Gold Rush
  • [1854]: J.B. Haines to Elizabeth Haines Warder concerning a sick child and the practice of medical bleedings
The collection contains several sketches: