Tag Archives: African American History
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A Free Colored Boy in a New Orleans Slave Dungeon (1855)

This item appeared in the July 27, 1855, issue of the Frederick Douglass’ Paper published in Rochester, New York.

Isaac Roberts a free colored boy of Ohio is now confined in prison in New Orleans as a runaway slave. The boy formerly resided in Harveysburgh in the Southwestern part of the State. The following account of the proceedings of a meeting in that place for his release we find in the Wilmington Independent:

At a meeting of the Citizens of Harveysburgh and vicinity, held in said place on the 7th inst., for the purpose of effecting the release of Isaac Roberts, a free colored boy of Ohio, now imprisoned as a runaway slave in the City of New Orleans. Wm. Sabin presided, and Charles Hurd, was appointed secretary.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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The Education of Youth (1837)

The Education of Youth (1837)

(The Colored American for November 11, 1937) The time has come in which Education should occupy a larger place in the minds of colored Americans, than it has heretofore done. Our views have been too limited, in respect to its importance and its kind. Many have been wholly careless whether they availed themselves or not, of the advantages held out by the schools of our land, and others, who have felt the importance of the cultivation of themselves and children, have entertained very mistaken views respecting the course of study to be pursued – hence the deficiency of our schools, in number and in quality.

To read, write, an cypher, with a mere smattering of geography and grammar, have bounded our ambition, and limited our education. We have never sought after those sciences and arts, calculated to expand the mind, increases the ideas, govern the reasoning powers, and mature the judgment. The laws of mind and matter have been wholly unknown and neglected by us. If we have been busied in them both, our knowledge of them has been rather instinctive, than scientific.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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Ku-Klux in Philadelphia: Death of Octavius V. Catto

Octavius Valentine Catto (February 22, 1839 – October 10, 1871) was a black educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. He became principal of male students at the Institute for Colored Youth, where he had also been educated. Born free in Charleston, South Carolina, in a prominent mixed-race family, he moved north as a boy with his family. He became educated and served as a teacher. As a man, he also became known as a top cricket and baseball player in 19th-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Coverage of his murder appeared in the October 21, 1871 issue of The National Standard: A Women’s Suffrage and Temperance Journal

Ku-Klux in Philadelphia: Death of Octavius V. Catto

(The National Standard, October 21, 1871) The death of Octavius V. Catto, one of the victims of the disgraceful riot in Philadelphia on the 10th inst., (the day of the State election in Pennsylvania), is an illustration of the caste spirit not prevailing in our midst, as virulent, if not as potent, as the murderous hatred animating the Ku-Klux banditti of the South. In the city of the North, the classic birth-place of Independence, the city the home of so many philanthropies, and owning so many of the illustrious, the benevolent and loyal-hearted as her children, in open day, guiltless of any offence save that he was of a despised race, a colored man, there was assassinated a patriot, a scholar, a Christian gentleman, whose life, character, and rareness of ability would have adorned any race or time.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

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The Colored Woman of Today - 1897

The Colored Woman of Today: Some Notable Types (1897)

By Fannie Barrier Williams

There is something very interesting and wonderfully hopeful in the development of the woman side of the colored race in this country, yet no women amongst us are so little known as the thousands of bright, alert, cultured, and gracious colored women of to-day.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

A little over a century ago colored women had no social status, and indeed only thirty years ago the term “womanhood” was not large enough in this Christian republic to include any woman of African descent. No one knew her, no one was interested in her. Her birthright was supposed to be all the social evils that had been the dismal heritage of her race for two centuries. This is still the popular verdict to an astounding degree in all parts of our country. A national habit is not easily cured, and the habit of the American people, who indiscriminately place all colored women on the lowest social levels in this country, has tended to obscure from view and popular favor some of the most interesting women in the land.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

But in spite of these prejudicial hindrances and a lack of confidence the young colored women of this generation are emerging from obscurity in many interesting ways that will happily surprise those who have never known them by their womanly qualities and graceful accomplishments. Such women seem to have no relationship to the slavery conditions of the yesterday of history. In a surprisingly brief period of time they have been completely lifted out of the past by the Americanism which transforms and moulds into higher forms all who come under the spell of American free institutions.

It should also be noted that the thousands of cultured and delightfully useful women of the colored race who are worth knowing and who are prepared to co-operate with white women in all good efforts, are simply up-to-date new women in the best sense of that much-abused term. If there be one virtue that is conspicuous in the characters of these women it is the passion to be useful and active in everything that befits high-minded and cultivated women.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

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A Look Inside - Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

A Look Inside: Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

The full title of Coffin’s book is REMINISCENCES OF LEVI COFFIN, THE REPUTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (BEING A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LABORS OF A LIFETIME IN BEHALF OF THE SLAVE, WITH THE STORIES OF NUMEROUS FUGITIVES, WHO GAINED THEIR FREEDOM THROUGH HIS INSTRUMENTALITY, AND MANY OTHER INCIDENTS.) It was published by the Western Tract Society in 1876.

Accessible Archives subscribers can find this fully searchable 712-page book in part VII of our Civil War collectionAbraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books.

Preface

I have been solicited for many years to write a history of my anti-slavery labors and underground railroad experiences, and although I had kept a diary the most of my life, it was without any prospect of ever putting it into book form. I had no desire to appear before the public as an author, having no claim to literary merit.

What I had done I believed was simply a Christian duty and not for the purpose of being seen of men, or for notoriety, which I have never sought. But I was continually urged by my friends to engage in the work, believing that it would be interesting to the rising generation; but being so fully occupied with other duties, I seemed to find no time that I could devote to this work, so that it was put off from year to year. I also often received letters from different parts of the country, desiring me to write the history of my life and labors in the anti-slavery cause, reminding me that the most of my co-laborers had passed away, and that I must soon follow, and that these stirring anti-slavery times in which I lived and labored were a part of the history of our country, which should not be lost.

But still, I deferred it until now, in the seventy-eighth year of my age. And although I feel the infirmities of that period of life fast gathering around me, I have gathered up my diaries, and other documents that had been preserved, and have written a book. In my own plain, simple style, I have endeavored to tell the stories without any exaggeration. Errors no doubt will appear, which I trust the indulgent reader will pardon, in consideration of my advanced age and feebleness. It is here proper also to acknowledge the valuable services of a kind friend, for aid received in preparing these pages for the press. I regret that I have been obliged to leave out many interesting stories and thrilling incidents, on account of swelling the size and cost of the book beyond what was agreed upon with the publishers.

Among the stories omitted is the account of the long imprisonment and sufferings of Calvin Fairbank, of Massachusetts, in the Kentucky penitentiary, for aiding fugitives, and of Richard Dillingham, of Ohio, who suffered and died in the penitentiary at Nashville, Tennessee, for a similar offense.

Part VII of our Civil War collection, Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books: Compiled by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Library in Springfield, Illinois this unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.
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