Pennsylvania Abolition Society papers
Organized in five series as described. Growing out of egalitarian concerns of members of the Society of Friends, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, as it is now known, was founded in 1775 as the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, but the Revolution caused its early... Full description
|Collection Information:||Pennsylvania Abolition Society Papers (#0490)|
|Corporate Author:||Pennsylvania Abolition Society|
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40.0 Linear feet 81 boxes, 60 volumes, 3 flat files
Organized in five series as described.
Growing out of egalitarian concerns of members of the Society of Friends, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, as it is now known, was founded in 1775 as the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, but the Revolution caused its early Quaker members to suspend operations until 1784, when it reorganized with a broader base. From the beginning, the Abolition Society's programs were devoted not only to the abolition of slavery, but to the social and economic improvement of Black Americans as well. As early as 1794, the Society helped to found the American Convention, a loose affiliation of anti-slavery societies everywhere, founded a school for Black males, and conducted the first census of Philadelphia's Black community. The Society operated through an Acting Committee of officers and through its Board of Education.
Series I: Minutes and reports, containing minutes of the General Meetings, 1775, 1784-1979; minutes of the Acting Committee, 1784-1842; minutes of the Electing Committee, 1790-1826; Committee for Improving the condition of free Blacks, minutes, 1790-1803; Committee of Guardians, 1790-1802; Board of Education, minutes and reports, 1797-1865; Committee on the African Slave Trade, minutes, 1805-1807. Also present in the first series are loose and draft minutes and committee reports.
Series II: Correspondence, 1789-1979. It contains letters on a variety of political, social, and personal subjects. Correspondents include most of the anti-slavery organization in the United States as well as a number of anti-slavery advocates including Jacques-Pierre Brissott de Warville, Condorcet, William Wilberforce, Benjamin Lundy, Lucretia Mott, and others.
Series III: Financial Records, 1792-1979. Treasurer's accounts, 1792-1840, 1937-1949; Board of Education (Committee of 24), 1793-1812, Subscription books, 1813-1821, 1813-1825, 1835-1837, Clarkson School tuition accounts, 1819-1822, 1838; miscellaneous bills, receipts, audits, 1795-1972.
Series IV: Manumission and indentures, 1785-1865. The majority of these materials have their origins with two committees of the Society: the Committee of Guardians, 1790-1803, recorded manumissions and indentures as they occurred under the Pennsylvania law for the gradual abolition of slavery (1780); the Committee of Inspection safeguarded the legal rights of Blacks, 1790-1803. After 1803, the Acting Committee assumed both roles. The manumission are contained in eight volumes, 1780-1853. Other records present in this series includes indentures for manumitted slaves, legal papers concerning efforts of the several committees to secure the release of Blacks brought into Pennsylvania, transcriptions of the laws regarding slavery in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Georgia, 1750s to 1790s.
Series V: Miscellaneous papers. Lists of officers and members, 1784-1819; memorials to both houses of Congress and several state legislatures regarding slavery, 1788-1860; records of related institutions, including: Lombard Street Infant School, roll book, 1849-1850; Clarkson Institute, Constitution, 1832, minutes, accounts, and reports, 1829-1837; Committee to Visit Colored People, Census Facts collected by Benjamin Bacon and Charles Gardner, 1838; Facts on Beneficial Societies, 1823-1838. Present, too, are extensive materials on the American Convention, which met irregularly in Philadelphia, 1794-1836, arranged by year: minutes, credentials, lists of members, committee reports, treasurer's accounts.
Also present in this series are the papers of organizations to which Abolition Society members belonged: Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, minutes, 1833-1870, incoming correspondence 1834-1853; Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society, committee reports, 1836-1837, incoming correspondence, 1834-1837, treasurer's accounts, 1835-1838; South Mulberry Ward (Philadelphia) Anti-Slavery Society, minutes, 1837; Junior Anti-Slavery Society of Philadelphia, constitution and minutes, 1836-1846; Bache Institute, accounts, 1851-1852; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Committee on Requited Labor, minutes and correspondence, 1837-1839; American Free Produce Association, correspondence and circulars, 1838-1840; Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, constitution, 1839; Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, minutes, 1838-1846, executive committee minutes, 1846-1870, accounts, 1847-1849, Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia, accounts, 1854-1857, "Journal C of Station No. 2 of the Underground Railroad," William Still, agent, 1852-1857; 13th Ward Republican Club of Philadelphia, constitution and minutes, 1856-1859.
The Society's records were originally maintained by its officers and members, but were then gathered together at Clarkson Hall in 1839, where they remained until the building was sold in 1863. Ten years later they were placed with the Friends' Historical Association where they remained until the 1920s, when they began to come to the Historical Society. Because the officers and members of the Abolition Society frequently held positions with other ameliorative organizations, fragmentary records of other organizations are frequently found among the Abolition Society's records. The Society's records were reorganized on archival principles in 1976, in preparation for the comprehensive microfilm of the records completed that year.
Addition to the collection (see Accession #010130.13) Pennsylvania Abolition Society committee minutes, 1795-1796
Minutes of the proceedings of the Committee appointed by the "Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society; for the improving the Condition of the Free Blacks; to take charge of those sent from Jamaica by David Barclay & others." 1 volume manuscript recorded mainly by secretary Benjamin Kite.