Chew Family Papers

In this letter, John Chew provides a rather cheerful account the results of a gruesome fight between two slaves. Beware the details in this one.

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Cathleen pointed out the salutation for this letter dated Nov 1, 1788.
"Most valued and almost adored Friend" -

Hmmm . . .
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While we certainly can't read everything, we do skim documents for a general idea of their content in order to categorize them. Discovering interesting tidbits about the individuals represented in a collection is one of the joys of processing. Benjamin Chew, Jr.'s voluminous correspondence has provided many such discoveries.
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Over the past few days, Natalie and I have been sorting Benjamin Jr's correspondence. It was housed in 30 boxes, but now, sorted by letter of the correspondent's last name, it looks like this:
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Check this out! Today we found a drawing book from Samuel Chew (1832-1887) from the years 1855 to 1863. Great little illustrations of family and friends. Here's a few that really got us excited.
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While there are many documents in this collection that illustrate the practice of slavery in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, I chose a few that were unfolded this week. These papers range from runaway slave notices to indentures for former slaves. What has been surprising to me is the element of agency on the part of some of the slaves to choose (or at least influence) where they worked.

I grew up with the vision of "Roots" as the way slavery was, and these papers are showing that there was much more of a relationship between people than one might expect.
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This recipe for "Mrs. Dysons Champaign" was found in a bundle containing bills and correspondence. Perhaps they drank this at Benjamin Chew's birthday celebration in 1840, for which there was a list of attendees.

Apparently, this brew can fool even the most discriminating palates.
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