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.
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.
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.