African American Collections
HSP’s collections document the experiences and representations of African Americans from the colonial era to the present. This guide provides an overview of these resources, organized by type of material.
The collections listed below were either created by or focus substantially on African Americans (or depictions of African Americans). The list includes brief descriptions at the collection level. For information about individual items by or about African Americans elsewhere in our holdings, see our manuscripts, graphics, and Afro-Americana card catalogs, which are available in our library, as well as the published guide Afro-Americana 1553-1906: A Catalog of the Holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2nd ed. (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2008).
Finding aids or inventories are available for many of these collections, either on line or in paper format. Please follow the links in this document or ask at our Reference Desk.
Adams County Historical Society lectures, 1974-1975 (MSS029), 0.2 linear feet
Creator:Adams County Historical Society (Nebraska)
This collection contains transcripts of a series of eleven lecture and discussion programs on the role of ethnic groups in the history of Adams County. Of note is a transcript on "The role of ethnic groups in Adams County," which largely concerns white-black relations.
African American female servant photograph, ca. 1910. (PG313), 1 item
Snapshot of African American female servant.
Albert E. Dutrieuille Catering records, 1873-1975 (MSS052), 1 linear foot
Creator:Albert E. Dutrieuille Catering
African Americans of French West Indian descent, the Dutrieuille family owned and operated a successful family catering business in Philadelphia from 1873 to 1967. The collection contains daybooks, a ledger, correspondence, biographies, and the original lease for the building. For related materials see the Bernice Shelton Papers.
Almshouse records, 1767-1837 (Collection 0789/Am .3225, Am .3226, Am .3227), 0.16 linear feet
Creator: Almshouse (Philadelphia, Pa.)
The City Almshouse and infirmary, established in 1732, provided "shelter, support, and employment for the poor and indigent, a hospital for the sick, and an asylum for the idiotic, the insane, and the orphan." Successor institutions that have carried on its services have been Blockley Almshouse, Philadelphia General Hospital, Philadelphia Hospital for Mental Diseases (Byberry), Home for Indigent (Holmesburg).
The record books are: ledger, 1767-1768; statistics, 1837, for the women's part of the Almshouse, listing name, age, birthplace, slave or free, marital status, probable cause of poverty, temperance habits, and employment, with comparative summaries for males and females.
American Negro Historical Society collection, 1790-1905 (Collection 0008), 10.5 linear feet
Creator:American Negro Historical Society
The American Negro Historical Society was founded in 1897 by a group of Philadelphia blacks to study and preserve materials documenting the American black experience. Among the founders and early members were Robert Adger, W.M. Dorsey and Jacob C. White, Jr., who donated materials to the society, some of which are present in the collection.
Included are minutes of the society, 1897-1904; incoming correspondence and drafts, 1897-1905; membership lists  and 1904; bills and receipts, 1900-1904; and land accession books.
Among the materials collected by the society and presented by Leon Gardiner, Philadelphia printer, are the records of several civic and philanthropic organizations: Banneker Institute, minutes kept by Jacob C. White, Jr., 1854-1859, roll books, 1854-1872, first begun as the roll of the Alexandrian Institute, receipts, 1855-1868, check book, 1867-1872, and record of lectures and debates, 1859-1861, some of which dealt with the place of the black in American society; Benezet Joint Stock Association of Philadelphia, a mutual beneficial society, minutes, 1854-1885, share records, 1871-1889, and payment orders, 1871-1885; Agricultural and Mechanics Association of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, constitution, 1839, continued as stock transfer book, 1840-1846, and stock certificate book, 1840-1844; Cultural, Social and Statistical Association of the Colored People of Philadelphia, constitution, by-laws, roll and minutes, 1860-1867, and payment orders, 1860-1867; Lebanon Cemetery, Philadelphia, letter books, Jacob C. White, Jr., secretary, 1874-1886, accounts, 1849-1867, burial vouchers, 1855-1901; Benjamin Lundy Philanthropic Society, roll book, 1830-1842; Daughters of Africa, beneficial society, minutes, 1822-1838, and payment order book, 1821-1829; Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, executive board minutes, 1864-1872; and Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital (Philadelphia), records, 1895-1901.
The collection also contains the records of several schools and churches: First African Presbyterian Church, miscellaneous correspondence and accounts, 1832-1846; Second African Presbyterian Church, correspondence, bills and receipts about its Sabbath School, 1832-1838; Zoar Sabbath School, catalogue of the library, 1844, continued as circulation record; records of the Roberts Vaux Consolidated School, 1870-1901.
Also included are correspondence and schedules of the Philadelphia Pythians, a black baseball club, 1867-1870; miscellaneous correspondence and broadsides of such organizations as the Philadelphia Library Company and the Colored People's Union League Association, and several letters and speeches of Isaiah C. Wears, 1856-1901, and Jacob C. White, Sr. and Jacob C. White, Jr., 1832-1899, some autograph material of Benjamin Banneker, 1790-1891, and Frederick Douglass, 1870-1875.
Joseph Blanchard bill of sale, 1757 (SC006), 1 item
Creator: Blanchard, Joseph
Bill of Sale to Charles Cox of Londerry, N.H., for "Negro Man N(J?)ames Lewis" 12/01/1757.
Nellie Rathbone Bright papers, ca. 1850-1973 (Collection 2057), 1 linear foot
Creator: Bright, Nellie Rathbone
Nellie Rathbone Bright, born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1898, was the only child of the Rev. Richard Bright and his wife, Nellie (Jones) Bright. Despite segregation barriers, the African American Bright family attained educational levels surpassing those of the general population of their generation. The Nellie Rathbone Bright family papers consist mainly of a biographical listing of dates of major milestones in her life such as graduations and civic awards. Although the collection offers little correspondence, it does include a number of photographs, and a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings and church programs relating to her father, the Rev. Richard Bright, and his work as an Episcopal priest in Savannah, Georgia, and Philadelphia. Bright’s biographical notes, the Rev. Bright’s scrapbook, as well as the photos, provide a mosaic-like portrait of the background that shaped Bright’s life as the daughter of a religious leader committed to educating young children. These articles offer glimpses of the richness and wealth of Nellie Rathbone Bright’s contribution to education in Philadelphia.
William M. Coates papers, 1731-1893 (Collection 0139), 0.25 linear feet
Creator: Coates, William M., 1845-1937
These papers contain the Yearly Meeting treasury book of Beulah Coates,1731-1741; broadside addressed to the president and council of Pennsylvania by prominent Quakers protesting against religious and political persecution, andreply to accusations of Quaker opposition to the cause of the American Revolution, 1776; Quaker broadside issued by John Pemberton, 1776; pamphlet, Address to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies in America, 1776; Nancy Gregory, indenture to Benjamin Hornor, 1803; letter of Frederick Douglass, African American orator and author, to Benjamin Coates, in behalf of abolition of slavery, and against colonization of Liberia, 1856; facsimile of a testimonial by members of the medical profession in Philadelphia, addressed to Dr. T.G. Morton, reputed discoverer of ether as an anesthetic, 1860.
Emilie Davis diaries, 1863-1865 (Collection 3030), 0.25 linear feet
Creator: Davis, Emilie
Emilie Davis was a young African American woman who lived in Philadelphia during the Civil War. Three diaries, 1863-1865, contain memories of her day-to-day life with mention of some wartime events, including the fall of Vicksburg and draft riots in New York City during 1863. In 1865, she attended a lecture given by Frederick Douglass. She wrote about “colored” troops, the draft, parades, and units marching off to war. Davis witnessed the funeral procession in Philadelphia for Abraham Lincoln and waited with many others to view the president’s body.
Frank Dumont minstrelsy scrapbook, 1850-1902 (Collection 3054), 1.25 linear feet
Creator: Dumont, Frank
Frank Dumont was actively involved in minstrel performances in the second half of the nineteenth century. He performed, managed a troupe, and wrote music. In 1902 he created this huge volume (33"x24"x4") in order to prove that Minstrelsy stemmed from the circus and to document the history of this musical and cultural phenomenon. He pasted in a slew of circus broadsides (some he has dated) from cities throughout the United States to support his claim. There are also many broadsides for minstrel and other musical performances, sheet music, programs, from the United States and the British Isles, and captioned, identified portraits of performers (sans blackface).
The broadsides, most of which seem to be from the 1840s to 1860s, often feature images and decorative motifs, frequently of minstrel players.
John E. Edwards collection, 1970-1972 (SC100), 1 folder
Creator: Edwards, John E.
The collection consists of letters, bibliographies, and biographical sketches of African American authors which were sent to Edwards, who was compiling a bibliography of African American writers. Included are several descriptions of problems faced by Black writers in being published.
John E. Edwards photograph collection, ca. 1940-1970 (PG037), 1 folder
Creator: Edwards, John E.
Portraits of African American writers Leroy L. Ramsey, Waters Edward Turpin, Ronald L. Fair, and A. Bontemps.
Ella Reid Public Library records, 1941-1969 (MSS003), 0.4 linear feet
Creator: Ella Reid Public Library (Tyler, Texas)
The Negro Public Library was chartered in 1941 and quartered in the basement of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. Established for the "colored children residing in the vicinity," it was supported entirely by donations of money, books, and furnishings. It became a city tax-supported institution ca. 1950, and its name was changed in 1961 to the Ella Reid Public Library. The collection contains a charter, correspondence, librarian's monthly and annual reports, financial reports and budgets, circulation records and registers of borrowers, accession records, property and equipment inventories, minutes of a Board meeting, a field visitor's report on the library by the Texas State Library, and miscellaneous items. Some of the records are on microfilm.
Ella Reid Public Library photograph, ca. 1900 (PG117), 1 print.
Creator: Ella Reid Public Library (Tyler, Texas)
Portrait of local teacher Ann Kayser; Texas.
Ethnic Images in Advertising collection, 1891-1999 (no collection number), 2 linear feet
Creator: Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
This artificial collection consists of ethnic images in advertisements, ranging from the late 1890s to 1999. The ethnic groups included are African American, Arab, Anglo, Dutch, Eskimo, English, Chinese, general Asian, Native American, Italian, Irish, Hawaiian, German, Jewish, Japanese, Scottish, French, Greek, Russian, Swiss, Mexican, general Latin American, Pennsylvania German, and some multi-ethnic. The bulk of the images are caricature stereotypical representations that were used widely in advertising and merchandizing in the early to mid twentieth century. Highlights include a few pieces of advertising ephemera targeted at reaching a specific ethnic group, such as two fans from African American riding academies. There is also a very unusual illustrated promotional booklet from Fischer’s Coffee entitled “How to Ask for A Cup of Coffee in 32 Languages.” Images are arranged alphabetically by name of ethnic group portrayed.
George Fant document, 1867 (SC097), 1 item
Creator: Fant, George
This license and certificate from Kentucky records the marriage of George Fant, "colored," to Myrna Burton, "colored."
Ruth Johns Ferguson papers, 1901-1985 (Collection 3075), 1.7 linear feet
Creator: Ferguson, Ruth Johns
Ruth Johns Ferguson (1902-1989), born Ruth Elizabeth Booker Johns, was a beauty culture expert, co-proprietor of the Apex School of Beauty Culture franchise in Philadelphia, and member of the National Beauty Culturists’ League and its national sorority, Theta Nu Sigma. She worked for the Apex Hair and News Company, the company that created the Apex beauty school, in the early part of the twentieth century. Eventually, Ferguson chose to teach the younger generations about beauty culture. Ferguson and her partner, Naomi T. Fassett (1908-1983), opened an Apex beauty school branch at 525 South Broad Street in Philadelphia, which they ran for about 35 years. Classes at Apex consisted mostly of young African American women from Philadelphia and the surrounding region, who wished to become beauty culture experts. Ruth Johns Ferguson stood out among her contemporaries as an African American woman running her own successful business in the mid- to late-twentieth century.
The Ruth Johns Ferguson collection is small yet varied and includes her father’s personal diary, a 1956 Apex School of Beauty Culture yearbook, National Beauty Culturists’ League/Theta Nu Sigma booklets, newspaper articles, diplomas, certificates, and a dark blue vinyl document bag. Photographic prints make up a majority of the collection. Ferguson kept pictures of friends and family as well as formal photographs of Apex graduation classes and National Beauty Culturists’ League/Theta Nu Sigma-related gatherings and events.
Leon Gardiner Collection, 1822-1979 (Collection 0008B), 1.5 linear feet
Creator: Gardiner, Leon
The Leon Gardiner Collection consists of materials collected by Leon Gardiner, a black Philadelphian who worked for the U.S. Post Office. He had a keen interest in raising consciousness about Black history and was an active member of the American Negro Historical Society.
Gardiner's own papers, including personal correspondence regarding family matters, gifts to HSP, Black history, and social and political activities promoting equality for blacks. Materials dealing with the John Brown Memorial Association and correspondence with Charles H. Wesley at Howard University are included. Job-related material deals with postal employees' associations and beneficial activities, social events, and court cases of Gardiner and of William F. Hill, a postal worker in St. Louis. Other material concerns the Mutual Alliance Service Corporation, a beneficial society which loaned money to needy members for immediate necessities; misc. bills and receipts, and a power of attorney, essays and other information on Black history, including two essays by Alberta S. Norwood, whom Gardiner assisted; and an address book and miscellaneous notes and songs.
Beatrice (Mrs. Leon) Gardiner material includes correspondence from family members and concerning the Women's League, Inc., and materials related to Father Divine's Peace Mission Free School, and the Gardiner, Newlin, Richardson Family Association. Two personal files of inspirational material are included, labeled "When I feel down and need a lift," and "Poems and Picker-Upper Readings."
Other materials include correspondence of Mr. And Mrs. George Gardiner, and a notebook of Julia Buchanan at Oberlin College, 1881, which mentions upstate New York, Montreal, and women's issues, including suffrage.
Political material and printed ephemera is grouped under National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, Omega Psi Phi, Young Women's Christian Association, churches, schools, concerts and plays, monuments, associations, social occasions, advertisements, business cards, and printed ephemera.
The Gardiners also collected newspaper clippings related to many areas of Black history, including education, church and religious activities, musicians and actors, writers and artists, athletes and military heroes, urban affairs, national and international affairs, and individuals. A small number of clippings on other subjects are also included.
Elio Gasperetti ethnic studies collection, 1967-2007 (Accession 2008.082), 3 linear feet
Creator: Gasperetti, Elio
Elio Gasperetti is a graphic artist and retired multiethnic curriculum specialist for the District of Columbia public school system. For over sixty years, he has collected and created images documenting a wide range of ethnic groups, and he has put together numerous displays and some slide presentations on ethnic history for schools, churches, federal agencies, and others. The captions and many of the illustrations in the displays are his own.
The collection includes a small sampling of captioned images from Mr. Gasperetti's ethnic history collection, including both his own drawings and pictures he collected and captioned. Most of the items are mounted on board and many of them are laminated. Also included are several published works written or illustrated by Mr. Gasperetti, including curriculum guides and popular history booklets, mainly about African American and African history.
Elio Gasperetti papers, 1974-1978 (Accession 1986-042), 0.2 linear feet
Creator: Gasperetti, Elio
The collection includes various publications documenting different ethnic groups in the armed services, and African American history. Many of the publications were written by Gasperetti.
George (ship) logbook, 1805-1806 (Collection 1084/Am .6823), 0.14 linear feet
Creator: George (ship)
The ship, George, was a trafficker of slaves and was confiscated by the British at Kingston. The volume is a diary and log of the George on a voyage from Philadelphia to Cork, Iceland and to St. Thomas.
Handy Brothers Music Company jazz manuscripts, n.d. (MSS026), 1 oversize folder.
Creator: Handy Brothers Music Company, Inc.
The collection consists of twenty-six manuscripts for jazz songs, some handwritten, including compositions by Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, W. Benton Overstreet, and William C. Handy.
High Street School photograph, ca. 1920 (PG279), 1 print
Creator: High Street School, Mullica Hill, New Jersey
Group portrait in front of school.
Samuel D. Holmes papers, 1932-1976 (Accession 1981-008), 2.2 linear feet
Creator: Holmes, Samuel D., b. 1889
Samuel D. Holmes was an African American resident of Philadelphia, who was elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in 1936 as a Democrat. The collection primarily includes clippings, newspapers, and magazines focusing on Black American life in the mid 20th century, as well as correspondence, programs, flyers, posters, photographs, and a scrapbook. Magazines include Encore, Esquire, Ebony, and Time.
Infant School Society of Philadelphia records, 1827-1947 (Collection 1665), 0.66 linear feet
Creator: Infant School Society of Philadelphia
The Infant School Society of Philadelphia was a charitable organization providing pre-primary instruction for both black and white children from 1827-1940.
Included are: Coloured School Committee letterbook, 1828-1936; Board of Managers letterbook, 1827-1830; Board of Managers minutes, 1827-1899, 1906-1940; account book, 1827-1891; and miscellaneous business papers, 1827-1947.
Josie Flynn's Minstrel Revue photographs, 1917 (PG143), 2 items
Creator: Josie Flynn's Minstrel Revue
Two group portraits of cast members. Women in flags and other costumes, men in blackface.
Laws of New Jersey respecting Negroes and Mulatto slaves from 1682 to 1788, 1795 (Collection 0956/Am .4565), 0.04 linear feet
Creator: New Jersey Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.
These laws were compiled by Joseph Bloomfield for the New Jersey Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, 1795.
Life in Philadelphia, 1828 (#083/Bd 912 Im 1), 0.05 linear feet
Creator: Imbert, Anthony
This collection consists of 20 lithographs done by famed lithographer Anthony Imbert, depicting African Americans, Quakers, and various others of Philadelphia in a less than favorable light. Imbert is best known for his work done for the celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.
Links, Inc. Eastern Area archival collection, 1946-2003 (Collection 3055), 5.5 linear feet
Creator: The Links, Inc. Eastern Area
Founded in 1946 and incorporated as a national organization in 1951, the Links have continually developed and refined their means of effectively responding to the social, political, and financial challenges of the black community for over fifty years. Established in Philadelphia by Sarah Strictland Scott and Margaret Roselle Hawkins as a small association dedicated to the changing needs of professional African American women, the Links today rely on the efforts of nearly 10,000 women from 274 chapters in realizing its national and international initiatives. In 1984, the Links, Inc. established an international headquarters in Washington, DC.
Initially started as a time capsule project to commemorate the new millennium, the collection has grown substantially with its reconfiguration as an archival effort. As the time capsule evolved into what is now the Eastern Area Archival Repository, designated archivists and historians from each chapter contributed a diverse range of materials to document the organization’s history and achievements. While the specific materials vary from chapter to chapter, collectively they bring to light the Links’ success in finding new interpretations of and new solutions to challenges within the black community throughout the world.
Charles Winthrop Lowell papers, 1860-1867 (Collection 2068), 3 linear feet
Creator: Lowell, Charles Winthrop, 1834-1877
Charles Winthrop Lowell is a ninth generation descendent of Percival Lowell, who was the first Lowell to emigrate to America, in 1639. He was born to Hon. Phillip Smith Lowell and Harriet Butler Lowell on November 20, 1834, in Farmingham, Maine. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1859 and studied law with the Hon. Charles P. Chandler, whose daughter Mary Elizabeth he married in June of 1860. Their daughter, Mary Chandler Lowell, was born on January 18, 1864; her mother died six days later. He was a prominent lawyer in Maine and Louisiana and served as a colonel and as provost marshal general in the Civil War. At the close of the war he settled in New Orleans, La., was member and speaker of the Louisiana legislature and for several years was postmaster of New Orleans. He married, ca. 1879, Sarah ("Sally") W. Huff of Salem, Va., but had no children from this marriage. He died October 5, 1877, in Foxcroft, Maine.
The papers of Charles W. Lowell consist mainly of materials collected by Lowell during his service as major of Company B, 80th Infantry Regiment, Corps D'Afrique. The collection contains correspondence, most of the later on military business; legal documents, which contain the records of court proceedings for which Lowell served as judge; bills and receipts; miscellaneous military inventories; military orders and circulars; and a section of miscellaneous documents.
Sir Robert Mends report, 1822 (Collection 1081/Am .6825), 0.01 linear feet
Creator: Mends, Robert, Sir, 1767-1823
This volume contains a report of Sir Robert Mends of H.M.S. Iphigenia, at Sierra Leone, to the British admiralty on slave trade on the western coast of Africa and a genealogical list of the Mends family.
Lewis Moore court documents, 1855-1856 (SC036), 0.01 linear feet
Creator: Moore, Lewis
Petitions and writs, 1855-1856, Cass Co., Texas, filed against Adam M. Heath and James Chappell in a legal dispute over "a Negro girl named Ellen" and her yearly allowance of clothing.
William J. Moore papers, 1871-1952 (MSS121), 0.2 linear feet
Creator: Moore, William J.
William Moore was born in Philadelphia and grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He attended Howard University and taught in Delaware; West Chester; and Cape May, New Jersey. He founded an elementary and junior high school for Black children in Cape May and was its principal for 52 years. He worked as a tennis coach at a local country club during the summers. The collection contains his parents' marriage certificate, his manuscript autobiography, writings on race relations and other subjects, notes on the history of West Cape May and some of its inhabitants, clippings, and other items
Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church photographs, 1950-1970s (PG234), 12 prints
Creator: Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Photographs depict founders and pastors, church services and buildings.
New Immigrants Initiative: African Immigrants project, n.d. (No collection number), 2 linear feet
Creator: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
This accession contains records of the Balch Institute/HSP's New Immigrants Initiative, African Immigrants project.
New Jersey souvenir albums, ca. 1910 (PG333), 1 folder
Creator: Provenance unknown
Copy images include photos of boardwalk and African American performers doing the cakewalk.
Nineteenth-Century Afro-Americans photographs, ca. 1860-1902 (PG116), 1 folder
Creator: Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
This artificial collection consists of late 19th century and early 20th century stereoscopic cards, stereotypical pictures of African Americans, and miscellaneous copy photographs from prints and photographs.
Henry C. Patterson papers, 1929-1972 (MSS004), 0.6 linear feet
Creator: Patterson, Henry C.
Henry C. Patterson was a Quaker civil rights advocate and the first Philadelphia Director of the United Negro College Fund. The collection consists of correspondence related to such matters as Patterson's solicitation of funds for African American colleges, particularly Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania; integration of the armed forces; Republican Party politics and the Hiss-Chambers case. It also includes correspondence relating to Patterson's service as an official of the War Relocation Authority and support for compensation for relocated Japanese Americans through the 1970s. Prominent correspondents include Whittaker Chambers, John F. Kennedy, Frank Knox, H.L. Mencken, Richard Nixon, Harry S. Truman, Wendell Willkie, Walter Annenberg, Frank Boas, Walter White, William Allen White, Oswald Garrison Villard, Jackie Robinson, Clifford Pinchot, George Eastman, and Francis Biddle.
Henry C. Patterson photographs, ca. 1940-1968 (PG054), 2 items
Creator: Patterson, Henry C.
The collection consists of two photographs: an 8 x 10 photo taken at the commencement of Lincoln University, ca. 1940, and a photo dated March 1968 of a young African American boy inscribed on the back “Love and Best Wishes To my God-father From Freddie.”
Pennsylvania Abolition Society papers, 1748-1979 (Collection 0490), 40 linear feet
Creator: Pennsylvania Abolition Society
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.
The collection is divided in to five series:
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 asthey 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.
People's Voice research and editorial files, 1865-1963 (Collection 3086), 0.2 linear feet
Creator: People's Voice (New York, N.Y.: 1942-1948)
People's Voice was a leftist African American newspaper in New York, N.Y., founded by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. It was published from 1942 to 1948. The collection includes correspondence, press releases, booklets, clippings, flyers, programs, printed materials, and photographs.
Mario Petaccia African American photographs, n.d. (Accession 1978-002), 3 items
Creator: Petaccia, Mario
The collection includes three color photographs of African Americans, with titles.
Porter-Mapp-Boggs Family photographs, 1900-1944 (PG253), 16 prints
Creator: Porter-Mapp-Boggs Family
Boggs, Mapp, and Porter family portraits; Philadelphia.
Portraits of Philadelphia's Black Community, ca. 1980 (Accession 2001-099), 1 folder
Creator: Sewell, James
The collection includes black and white photographic portraits of Black Philadelphians in a range of work and social situations. These works formed a 1981 exhibition at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies entitled "Portraits of Philadelphia's Black Community."
Powell Jubilee Singers photograph, 1882 (PG248),1 print.
Creator: Powell Jubilee Singers
One group portrait.
Justine J. Rector papers, 1943-1989 (MSS076), 5.5 linear feet
Creator: Rector, Justine J., 1927-
Justine Rector was born in Philadelphia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She has been an active teacher and journalist and has taught at Howard University and other schools. She has been involved in promoting civil rights, high standards in journalism, and in documenting and improving race relations, particularly in Philadelphia.
The collection consists primarily of materials documenting a range of civic organizations and conferences, Rector's professional activities, and her research on Black history. Included are correspondence, research files, publications, clippings, and conference materials.
Justine J. Rector papers, 1870-2000 (Collection 3088), 5.5 linear feet
Creator: Rector, Justine J., 1927-
This portion of the Justine J. Rector papers spans her career as a journalist for newspapers in Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. It also contains a collection of newspaper clippings that cover the period of the civil rights era in Philadelphia, through the debate of Ebonics in public schools. Of note is the vast collection of material dating back to the origins of Black journalism in Pennsylvania, which includes a historical listing of Black journalists in Pennsylvania.
The bulk of the papers are subject files collected by Rector in the course of her research on Black history, her professional activities as a Black journalist, and her participation in a variety of civic organizations and conferences. Of particular interest is the material from the two conferences held on the “African American Male-an Endangered Species” which focuses on the organization Rector founded, the African American Male Resource Center. There are a series of articles authored by Rector that focused on the plight of the black American male and the unfair treatment of him by society. The articles describe the hopelessness that is prevalent with young Black males who have difficulties finding educational opportunities and jobs.
Justine J. Rector photographs, ca. 1969-1981 (PG269), 21 items
Creator: Rector, Justine J., 1927-
This collection consists of photographs of Charles W. Bowser's mayoral campaign, meetings/activities of local community organizations, and portraits of African American personalities from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
William Redwood account books, 1749-1811 (Collection 1729/Amb .7256), 10 volumes
Creator: Redwood, William
William Redwood was a merchant of Newport, 1749-1762, 1778-1782, Philadelphia, 1762-1778, 1787-1815, and Antigua, 1782-1787. While in Antigua, he also operated the family plantations.
Included in the collection are: Redwood's journal, 1749-1760, and ledger, 1749-1763, of his Newport partnership with Elias Bland; wastebook (Philadelphia) 1775-1797; ledger, 1775-1810; journal (Antigua) 1782-1787; daybook (Antigua) 1782-1787; ledger, 1787-1790; journal (Philadelphia) 1787-1790; daybook (Philadelphia) 1787-1790; and daybook (Philadelphia). The Antigua journal and daybook contain detailed plantation records, including the hiring and upkeep of black and white workers, frequent recapturing of runaway slaves (who are usually identified by name), a high turnover in overseers, crop plantings, and commerce in farm products.
Roberts Family photographs, 1920-1944. 6 prints.
Creator: Roberts Family
Family groups, portraits and activities; Philadelphia.
Sandy Bank Cemetery list of persons buried, 1801-1855 (Collection 1061/Am .2534), 0.08 linear feet
Creator: Sandy Bank Cemetery (Media, Pa.)
Sandy Bank Cemetery consisted of approximately one acre of ground owned by the Society of Friends and had been used for burial since ca. 1750. Isaac Smedley, who owned and operated the farm at Sandy Bank, was responsible for burials in the cemetery. Escaped slaves and free blacks, as well as Friends, were interred there. Typescript by Edgar T. Miller, 1901.
Scott-Johnson Family photographs, 1910-1970s (PG077), 12 prints
Creator: Scott-Johnson Family
Family portraits, groups and cultural activities; Pennsylvania.
Daniel Seymour receipt, 1810 (SC003), 1 item
Creator: Seymour, Daniel
Receipt dated June 5, 1810, for a "Negro Wench named Jane."
Sheet music collection, ca. 1824-ca. 1945 (No collection number), 3 linear feet
Creator: Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
The collection contains sheet music representing or created by members of a variety of ethnic groups, much of it reflecting stereotypes.
Bernice Dutrieuille Shelton papers, 1913-1983 (MSS131), 10.8 linear feet
Creator: Shelton, Bernice Dutrieuille
Bernice Dutrieuille Shelton was born in Philadelphia. She was among the earliest African American graduates of Girls' High, and became a journalist in the early 1920s. Shelton contributed regular features on social news and columns on other subjects to area African American newspapers, including the Philadelphia Tribune and the Baltimore Afro-American, serving as both special correspondent and advertising representative for the Afro-American. She was active in a number of civic organizations including the YWCA, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs. The collection contains personal and professional correspondence and related materials, drafts and clippings of many of Shelton's columns, drafts of a history of the Dutrieuille family written by Shelton, miscellaneous writings and printed materials, and uncataloged photographs. There is also a folder that contains items from the Y.W.C.A. of Philadelphia, a pamphlet from The New York Public Library on their African American holdings, a dance program from Lincoln University, and literature from the Stephen Smith Home for the Aged in Philadelphia.
Charles F. Smith bill of sale, 1803 (SC005), 1 item
Creator: Smith, Charles F.
Bill of Sale for a “Female Negro Slave Named Phyllis.”
Society of Friends documents, 1782-1831 (SC054), 1 folder
Creator: Society of Friends
This small collection consists of documents relating to African Americans, including manumission signed by Sarah Pierpoint, Frederick Co. Md., June 29, 1782; expense account of Friends who attended the Md. Legislature with a "memorial relative to People of Colour," Feb. 21, 1817; Last will and testament of Sifney Jones, wife of a slave, Dec. 2, 1820; letter from Joseph Bringhurst of Wilmington De. Oct 8, 1831, requesting help in sending goods to Solomon Bayley, a Negro man living in an African colony; and a list of thirty emigrants sailing from Baltimore to Monrovia, Liberia, giving the age of each and noting that four died during the journey.
St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church records, 1985-1995 (Accession 1997-010), 0.2 linear feet
Creator: St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church
The collection includes newsletters, programs, parish register, mass record, correspondence, clippings, and photographs from the St. Peter Claver Church, a predominantly African American Catholic church.
St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church photographs, 1910-1920 (PG060), 19 prints
Creator: St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church
Group portraits of confirmation classes, sports team and event; Philadelphia.
James Samuel Stemons papers, 1894-1922 (MSS012), 1.4 linear feet
Creator: Stemons, James Samuel
James Samuel Stemons was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, and settled in Philadelphia ca. 1900. A postal worker, journalist and writer, he served as the editor of two short-lived African American newspapers: The Philadelphia Courant and the Pilot. He was also active in several civic organizations. An outspoken advocate for equal industrial opportunities for Blacks, he lectured and published extensively on race relations. He served as Field Secretary of the
Joint Organization of the Association for Equalizing Industrial Opportunities and the League of Civic and Political Reform. The collection documents Stemons' personal and professional life, and includes correspondence, printed materials, writings, clippings, a photocopy of a marriage license to Arizona L. Cleaver, and the manuscript of his unpublished autobiographical novel.
Stereopticon views collection, ca. 1880-ca. 1920 (No collection number), 0.4 linear feet
Creator: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
This artificial collection of stereopticon views and photographs of miscellaneous subjects including Fairmount Park, Wissahickon Creek, the Liberty Bell, the funeral of President McKinley, the Pennsylvania Hotel, animals, and others. Many Southern views of African American workers on cotton and sugar plantations along with views of the effects of the 1886 earthquake in South Carolina were all photographed by J. A. Palmer of Aiken, S. C. Also included is a box of views used for optical purposes.
Stiefel family papers, ca. 1920-2007 (Accession 2008.001), 1.9 linear feet
Creator: Stiefel family
Asher Shtevel/Stiebel and his wife, Brindele, lived in Poketilov, Russia (now part of the Ukraine) in the nineteenth century. Three of their sons came to Philadelphia in 1887: Abraham, Jacob, and Michael (1871-1954), who were followed by other brothers, including Hyman (1860-1927). Sometime after 1887, the American branch of the family started using the name Stiefel.
In 1903, members of the Stiefel family set up a movie theater in Philadelphia, the Fairyland on Market Street. In the following years, they opened other theaters in Philadelphia, elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and in Baltimore, New York, Washington DC, and California. The Stiefels were also in the film distribution business and produced live shows and at least one film. Theaters run by the Stiefels, notably the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia and the Howard Theatre in Washington, were part of the so-called "Chitlin Circuit" and gave starts to many black entertainers whose music later appealed to a wider audience.
The collection includes materials related to several members of the Stiefel family, including Abraham, Hyman, Michael, Abraham's sons Samuel H. (1897-1958) and Nathan, and Samuel's son Bernard M. (1937-2007). In additional to materials pertaining to their various theaters and other work in the entertainment business, there are also materials related to the Queen Village Neighbors Association, of which Bernard Stiefel was executive director in the early 1990s. The collection includes photographs, clippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, programs, press and printed materials, correspondence, notes, receipts, Internet printouts, and other items.
Robert Thomas photograph, 1864 (PG247), 1 print
Creator: Thomas, Robert
One portrait of Robert Thomas in military uniform (Civil War; Co. E. 32 Colored Regiment).
Waters Edward Turpin letter, 1937 (SC101), 1 page
Creator: Turpin, Waters Edward (1910- )
In this letter to Harry W. Zollars, he thanks him for his compliments on Turpin's These Low Grounds.
Twigs, Inc. Marlton, New Jersey Chapter records, 1982-1992 (MSS152), 0.4 linear feet
Creator: Twigs, Inc. Marlton, New Jersey Chapter
Twigs was founded in 1948 to promote strength, growth, and life among African American families. The Marlton, New Jersey chapter was founded in 1986. The collection contains general office files, including correspondence, directories, minutes, agendas, and materials concerning chapter activities, events, and merchandise.
Twigs, Inc. Philadelphia Chapter photographs, 1977-1985 (PG382), 0.25 linear feet
Creator: Twigs, Inc. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Chapter
This collection consists solely of black and white and color photographs of Twigs officers, members and events.
Twigs, Inc. Philadelphia Chapter records, 1959-1998 (MSS154), 5.8 linear feet
Creator: Twigs, Inc. Philadelphia Chapter (Pennsylvania)
This collection of Twigs, Inc. records contains both chapter and national records, including constitutions and bylaws, minutes, correspondence, financial records, membership and alumni directories, scrapbooks, ephemera, and other items.
Ujima Collective records, 1995-2001 (Accession 2001-033), 1.2 linear feet
Creator: Ujima Collective
The Ujima Collective was founded in 1997 to promote cross-cultural interaction and activism among students of color at Philadelphia colleges and universities. It published a newsletter, sponsored events, and provided a network with other organizations, such as university student groups, churches, and service organizations. The collection includes records of Ujima, member and prospective organizations, and related projects.
University of Pennsylvania black veterinarians poster, n.d. (Accession 1981-001), 1 item
Creator: University of Pennsylvania Black Veterinarians
A poster type display of Black veterinarians who graduated from University of Pennsylvania.
Varick Memorial Temple photograph, n.d. (PG287), 1 print
Creator: Varick Memorial Temple (Philadelphia, Pa.)
View of the Temple, Philadelphia.
Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia minutes, 1839-1844 (Collection 1121/Am .3375), 0.1 linear feet
Creator: Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia (Pa.)
The Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia was the secret fund raising and electoral division of the Vigilant Association of Philadelphia, which was organized in 1837 by Robert Purvis, a dedicated abolitionist, to provide aid for runaway slaves. Like its sister organizations in other cities, this group provided the means necessary to assist runaways as they made their way north. The Vigilant Committee helped to make Philadelphia an important stop along the Underground Railroad.
The records of the Vigilant Committee consist of one volume containing case records and minutes. The records are comprised of sixty-two entries, each of which describes the cases handled by the group between June 4, 1839 and March 3, 1840. In addition, the volume contains the minutes of the meetings held by the committee between May 1839 and July 1844.
Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia records, 1972-1989 (Accession 1989-014, 1991-020, 1999-003, 1999-018), 2 linear feet
Creator: Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia
Latin for "twenty men," Viri Viginti is an African American social club founded in 1914 in Philadelphia. The collection includes by-laws, membership lists, minutes, photographs, correspondence, clippings, and financial records.
Wuanda M. T. Walls family papers, 1895-2007 (Accession 2008.058), 2.07 linear feet
Creator: Walls, Wuanda M. T.
Wuanda M. T. Walls is a writer who was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but raised in nearby Delaware County. She graduated from Chester High School in 1961 and Lincoln University in 1980. The Walls family was one of the core families of Hinsonville, Pennsylvania, a small African American community in Chester County that became the site of Lincoln University, the oldest black college in the United States. The collection documents the history of the Wallses and related families, Hinsonville, and Lincoln University Village. It includes family photos, correspondence, clippings, legal papers, diplomas and yearbooks, ephemera, an oral history audiocassette and transcript, a published essay (by Wuanda Walls) and two books on the history of Hinsonville, and other items. There is also some of Walls's own memorabilia, such as autographed photographs and programs, airplane tickets, and a program from the 1966 Newport Jazz festival. A rough inventory is available.
Warley Bascom Sons business records, 1881-1970 (Collection 2030), 0.8 linear feet
Creator: Warley Bascom Sons (firm)
Warley Bascom Sons, specializing in general upholstering, interior decorations, and cabinet work, became one of the oldest and longest lived businesses owned and run by blacks in Philadelphia. Mattress-maker Warley Bascom, a freeman from Charleston, S.C., began the business ca. 1861; it continued under family management until 1974, managed successively by Warley Bascom, Jr., his wife, Josephine Davis Bascom, and their children William, Edgar, and Ethel Bascom Serjeant.
Included in the records are: order books, 1902-1923; customer list, 1907-1908; list of rental properties, 1898-1901, with lists of accounts receivable, 1897-1904; cashbook, 1944, 1953; payroll book, 1917-1922; bank books, 1889-1906; loose receipts, 1881-1882.
There are in addition a few miscellaneous family papers, including estate records.
Warley Bascom Sons records, 1903-1910 (SC042), 0.25 linear feet
Creator: Warley Bascom Sons
A free African American originally from Madagascar, Warley Bascom left Charleston, South Carolina in 1861 to establish an upholstery and interior decorating business in Philadelphia. Two sons and a daughter continued the business until 1973. The ledger shows customers' accounts and includes an index listing customers alphabetically by name. There is a brief family history by Elizabeth Powers in the library.
Joseph Watson correspondence, 1824-1828 (Collection 1873), 0.33 linear feet
Creator: Watson, Joseph, 1784-1814
Joseph Watson, born in 1784, was the son of Isaac Watson and Ann Jenks. Originally a Philadelphia lumber merchant, Watson was appointed an alderman in 1822. In 1824 he was chosen to succeed Robert Wharton as mayor of Philadelphia. After leaving the mayor’s office in 1828, Watson went on to serve as the president of Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, a position he held until his death in 1841. He had married Harriet Snowden in about 1815; they had no children.
Watson’s papers, which date from his tenure as mayor, are primarily comprised of incoming correspondence, much of which is from office seekers. Also included are pleas from prisoners seeking clemency, letters from victims and alleged criminals concerning larceny and other crimes, and letters and papers from various agents and law enforcement officials in southern towns concerning the kidnapping of Philadelphia free blacks who were then sold into slavery. A few bonds, receipts, and copies of legal documents supplement the correspondence.
John Wilson papers, 1794-1816 (Collection 0722/Am .1901), 0.1 linear feet
Creator: Wilson, John, d.1798
This ledger contains the accounts of John Wilson's surveying and engineering work done for landholders, canal companies, and farmers in Scotland. The volume was continued by his wife, Judith, as domestic accounts after Wilson's death in 1798.
George Wygant indenture, 1804 (SC004), 1 item
Creator: Wygant, George
Indenture of a sale of a Negro man for $285.00.
HSP holds numerous sources in print that illuminate and convey the African American experience, both regionally and nationally. Our collection of over 1200 pamphlets on slavery and abolition include items from the Association of Friends Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and The Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held In Bondage. Authors include Anthony Benezet, Roberts Vaux, and Frederick Douglass. These materials were rehoused and cataloged in 2005-2006. They are now searchable in our online catalog under call numbers starting with “E 441.” For example:
- Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, annual reports, 1836-1837 (call # E 441 .A58 v.7 no.2 & no.3)
- The Anti-Slavery Examiner, 1836-1839, 1844-1845 (call # E 441 .A58 v.36, v.37 & v.38 and E 441 .A58 v.81 no.2, no.3, no.7, no.9, no.11 & no.12)
- Annual report of the director of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc., 1923-1939 (call # E 441 .A58 v.64 no.2)
- Genius of Universal Emancipation, 1830-1832, 1834-1835 (call # E 441 .A58 v.54)
- Anti Slavery Tracts, published by the Anti-Slavery Office in Philadelphia, ca. 1840 (call # E 441 .A58 v. 83 no.6)
In addition, we hold numerous published biographies, accounts, and narratives on such as topics as the African colonization movement, abolitionism, and African American history.
Other printed resources in our collections include newspapers and periodicals, which are available in original print format and on microfilm. Among our microfilm holdings are the Liberator, the New York Age, International Negro Workers’ Review, and the Quarterly Review of Higher Education Among Negroes. We also have a variety of periodicals in print, including annual reports from the American Colonization Society dating from the 1840s to the 1880s. Some of our other significant holdings include:
- The Journal of Negro History, non-consecutive years from 1916 to 2001
- The Negro History Bulletin, non-consecutive years from 1938 to 1987
- Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, 1981-2002
- Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1978-2002
- The Black Scholar, 1974-1975, 1980-2006
- Black Issues in Higher Education, 1988-2003
- State of Black America, 1980-1996, 2001-2002
We also have smaller runs and single issues of unique serials such as:
- Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, non-consecutive years from 1930 to 1946
- Colored Harvest, 1936
- African Commentary, 1989
- Heritage, 1992
- Pen an’ Wit, 1988
- Abbott’s Monthly, 1930-1933
- Common Ground, 1941, 1942, 1948
The Society also has several local newspapers written from African American perspectives, including the Philadelphia Tribune and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun. Additionally, there are issues of the Philadelphia New Observer, which covered a broader range of ethnic and racial topics, and the nationally available African Sun Times.
Most of our serials, both in print and on microfilm, are searchable in our online catalog.
Our collections contain a wide range of prints and graphic material that showcase the lives and spirits of African Americans regionally and nationally. The Balch ethnic posters collection, for instance, contains some African American-related posters, most dating from the early to late 20th century. There are advertisements for movies, books, plays, festivals, and museum exhibits, as well as several prints and original artworks. Examples from this diverse collection include:
- The Defiant Ones, 1958, movie poster (AA 75.436)
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin, theatre poster (AA 75.457)
- Bruce Bennett photographs, exhibit advertisement (AA 93.33)
- Listen for the Fig Tree by Sharon Bell Mathis, book advertisement (AA 89.56)
- Africamericas Festival, 1992, advertisement (AA 92.186)
- Jambo Means Hello by Muriel Feelings, book advertisement (AA 89.58)
- Lost Child by Monte Frazier, signed print (AA 89.192)
- The Burning Cross, 1947, movie poster (AA 75.440)
- “Don’t be Stubborn! Obey Your Patrol,” advertisement by the Automobile Club of Chester County (AA 88.15)
The Society also has smaller collections of ephemera, advertisements, and movie stills that, while highlighting many different racial and ethnic groups, also contain some images relevant to African American culture.
Some collections, such as the Theater Posters collection (V 6) are cataloged in our online catalog, as well as in our collection database MANX, which is available to researchers on site in our library. Other collections that are searchable through MANX include the Frank Dumont Minstrelsy Scrapbook (3054),the Balch Ethnic Posters collection, the Ethnic Images in Advertising collection, the Ethnic Arts and Crafts collection, and the Nineteenth-Century Afro-Americans photographs (PG 116).
The cartoons and caricatures in HSP’s holdings depict African Americans in both positive and negative lights. In some cartoons, such as many from the 1860 presidential campaign, African Americans are often reduced to stereotypes or political tools. The issue of slavery and the free black man dominated these images for decades, and many cartoons were blatantly racist. As cartoons evolved, so too did the stereotypes and racial themes, which were often mocked to demonstrate the futility of racism based on the color of one’s skin.
Our Cartoons and Caricatures collection is searchable in our MANX database. The prints are arranged in several boxes by date. While some of the cartoons from this collection are cataloged in our graphics card catalog, there is currently no comprehensive item-level inventory available for this collection. Cartoons can also be found in our graphics collections with call numbers starting with “Ba,” “Bb,” and “Bc.” These items can be found in our graphics card catalog.
Emancipation, the abolition movement, social events, churches, slavery: these are just some of the African American-related topics that are highlighted in HSP’s extensive collections of broadsides. Broadsides cataloged under call numbers starting with “Ab” range 1700s to the mid 1900s and include announcements from organizations such as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the Banneker Institute, the Frederick Douglass Hospital, the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored People, the Female Anti-Slavery Association, and the Allen A.M.E. Church. There are also advertisements for dances, exhibitions, concerts, benefits, and memorial services. Additionally, the collection contains a few reward announcements for runaway slaves, as well as educational circulars arguing both for and against emancipation.
Other smaller broadsides collections include the Society Prints: Posters and Broadsides collections (V 94), which contains some Civil War-era material, as well as the Balch Broadsides collection.
For the most part, the Society’s broadside collection (call numbers starting with “Ab”) are searchable only through our printed card catalog. There is a finding aid now available for the Society Prints: Posters and Broadsides collection (V 94). Cataloging sheets for the Balch Broadsides collection are available in HSP’s library, and the collection is searchable in our MANX database.
Printed guides are available for several of these collections. Please ask at our Reference Desk.
American Negro Historical Society Papers, 1790-1905 (Collection 008 / MFilmZ1361 .N39 A54 1997), 12 reels (positive)
Creator: American Negro Historical Society
See the description of the American Negro Historical Society collection in the Manuscripts and Photographs section of this guide. A printed guide to the microfilm collection is available at the Reference Desk.
Colonization Herald, positive; 1 reel. This microfilm has not yet been cataloged and is still being processed. Frequency, every 2 weeks. Reel covers Jan.7, 1837 – Dec. 16, 1837. Missing issues; March 4, April 1. Until Feb. 18 issue, the masthead reads ‘Conducted by the Executive Committee of theYoung Men’s Colonization Society of Pennsylvania’, but from the March 18 issue on, it reads ‘Conducted by the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Colonization Society.’ This change in name is explained in an article in this issue entitled “Union of the Two Pennsylvania Colonization Societies.” It says ‘the Young Men’s Society is of more recent origin [than the PCS], and was formed in view of a specific object.’ This object is explained as the founding of ‘a little colony’ in Liberia called Bassa Cove, separate from the official American Colonization Society sponsored town of Monrovia, in order to settle ‘a large company’ of former slaves. It is explained here that the Pennsylvania Colonization Society, a direct affiliate of the ACS feared that the existence of two colonization societies within Pennsylvania would lead to apparent ‘divided action’ and competing fund-raising efforts. So, a resolution was adopted that put the Young Men’s Colonization Society under the jurisdiction of the PCS.
No editorial information is available except for a small box at the end of each issue with a publication address on Sansom Street and the name ‘Rev. O. Douglass’ as ‘Corresponding Secretary.’
Ella Reid Public Library, Tyler, Texas. 1941—1969. Total of three reels, negative: 1 reel not yet processed or catalogued, plus 2 16 millimeter wide reels that are uncataloged but available for viewing in the Greenfield Room, Drawer 275 – call no. MF178.
Unprocessed reel contains accession list of books, activity reports, some correspondence to and from the Head Librarian, expense sheets, clippings and reports from outside evaluating agencies – all describing the workings of this exemplary library, intended specifically for African Americans, in the small city of Tyler, Texas, from the 1940s to the late ‘60s. The 2 16 mm. reels show reproductions of the Library’s catalog cards.
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church records, 1822-1972 (Collection 2017/Mfilm BX 8445.P5M6), 12 reels
Creator: Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, dedicated in 1793, was an outgrowth of the movement among Protestant blacks to organize into separate congregations. In 1787 a company of blacks in Philadelphia withdrew from the white dominated Methodist Church and under the leadership of Richard Allen built Bethel Church. In 1816 Bethel joined with 16 other congregations to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church with Allen as the first bishop.
The class system, which was the early system of the Methodist Church dividing the congregation into Classes, each with a layman as class leader, remained an important part of Bethel's organization late into the 19th century.
The collection is divided into six parts:
Part 1: General record books consists of three official church registers, 1865-1874, 1880 1895, 1907-1912. Included in the registers are historical records, class rolls, records of membership, office holders, baptisms, and marriages. The historical records of the first volume contain a transcription of Richard Allen's biography.
Part 2: Records of the board of trustees, the controllers and managers of the property of the church, including minutes, 1863-1894, 1910-1944; account books, 1832-1847, 1890-1903, 1909-1942.
Part 3: Records on the religious function of the church. This section contains the records of the corporation (a body embracing the entire membership), the official board, the Board of Stewards, the Quarterly Conference, the classes, and the Class leaders. Included in this part are: minutes, 1848-1849, 1876-1972; account books, 1846-1858, 1871-1901; Class rolls with records of contributions and disbursements, 1852-1854, 1872-1894.
Part 4: Records of special organizations and activities, including: minutes of theUnion Benevolent Sons of Bethel, a burial society, 1826-1844; minutes of the United Daughters of Tapsico Society, a benevolent society offering aid to sick members, 1837-1847; minutes of the Preachers' Association, Philadelphia Conference, 1897-1901; minutes of the [Richard] Allen Christian Endeavor, 1902- 1910; minutes of the Ushers' Association, 1925-1941; minutes of church trials of members for breaches of church discipline, 1822-1835, 1838-1851, 1859-1865; Sunday School roll books, ca. 1860, 1934-1939; membership roll books, 1901, ca. 1916; and visitors' registration books, 1901-1970.
Part 5: Miscellany, including a Richard Allen bible, an early King James quarto, 1802.
Part 6: The Christian Recorder, the journal of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1854-1856, 1861-1902.
American Colonization Society records, 1792-1964, 323 reels
Creator: American Colonization Society
The society was formed in Washington, D.C. in 1816-1817 to help freed slaves emigrate from the United States to Africa. It purchased land for resettlement on the west coast of Africa in what is now Liberia, and it was initially supported by antislavery groups and by some slave holders. The society continued to be active after the Civil War, helping in individuals who wished to emigrate to Liberia. In the twentieth century it was primarily concerned with the promotion of education in Liberia. The collection contains correspondence, financial records, annual reports, minutes and proceedings, legal papers, and miscellaneous papers. The original documents are in the Library of Congress. For related materials see records of the Maryland Colonization Society.
Paul Dunbar papers, 1873-1942, 9 reels
Creator: Dunbar, Paul (1872-1906)
Dunbar was born and lived in Dayton, Ohio. One of the first African American writers to achieve national prominence, his verse and short stories used Southern black dialect. However, he moved away from Black stereotypes in his novels. The collection contains correspondence, legal and financial papers, miscellaneous papers, literary manuscripts, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks. The original collection is in the Ohio Historical Society.
Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots records, 1966. 5 reels.
The commission was formed to investigate causes of race riots in Los Angeles in the summer of 1965 and to recommend measures to prevent the recurrence of race-related violence. The collection contains records of the commission, including transcripts, depositions, and consultants' reports.
Maryland Colonization Society records, 1827-1902. 31 reels.
Creator: Maryland Colonization Society
Founded in 1817 as an auxiliary of the Washington-based American Colonization Society, its primary functions were to gather funds and recruit colonists for the parent society. It later established a separate colony, Maryland in Liberia, for freed slaves. The collection includes letter books, shipping books, financial records, manumission lists, journals, bills, subscribers' reports, pamphlets, books, and maps. The original records are in the Maryland Historical Society. For related materials see the records of the American Colonization Society. Register available.
Works Progress Administration. Slave NarrativeCollection, 1936-1938, 11 reels
Creator: Works Progress Administration
The records consist of narratives prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. The narratives were compiled from interviews with former slaves conducted by project staff. The states represented include Indiana, Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The original records are in the Library of Congress. Register available.
Advocate (newspaper), 1914-1918, 1 reel.
Published weekly in Cleveland, Ohio by Ormond A. Forte. Continued by Cleveland Advocate.
AtlantaUniversity publications, 1896-1908, 1 reel.
Published annually in New York by Harper 1896-1947. Series of papers concerning social and political problems of African Americans. Includes works by W.E.B. Du Bois.
Bronzeman (periodical), 1931-1933, 1 reel.
Published monthly in Chicago, Illinois by Fireside Publications. "A popular magazine for all."
Brownies' Book (periodical), 1920-1921, 1 reel.
Published monthly in New York City by Du Bois and Dill, 1920-1921. "A monthly magazine for children of the sun."
Challenge (periodical), 1934-1937, 1 reel.
Published quarterly in Westport, Connecticut by Negro Universities Press, 1934-1937.
Christian Recorder of the African MethodistEpiscopal Church (newspaper), 1854-1856, 1861-1865, 1894-1898, 3 reels
Published weekly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the Book Committee of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1852-1960.
Cleveland Advocate (newspaper), 1918-1920, 1 reel.
Published weekly in Cleveland, Ohio by Ormond A. Forte. Continues the Advocate (Cleveland, Ohio).
Color (newspaper), 1944-1957, 5 reels.
Published in Charlestown, West Virginia by Color, Inc.
Colored American (newspaper), 1840-1841, 1 reel.
Published weekly in New York City by Robert Sears, 1837-1842.
Colored American Magazine (periodical), 1900-1909, 2 reels.
Published monthly in Boston, Massachusetts by the Colored Co-operative, 1900-1909.
Douglass' Monthly (newspaper), 1859-1863, 1 reel.
Published monthly in Rochester, New York beginning in 1858.
Elevator (newspaper), 1865-1898, 1 reel.
Published weekly in San Francisco, California by The Elevator Publishing Company, beginning in 1865. "Equality before the law."
Guide to Negro Periodical Literature (periodical), 1941-1946, 1 reel.
Published quarterly in Jefferson City, Missouri by Lincoln University, 1941-1946. Compiler, Albert P. Marshall.
Harlem Liberator (newspaper), 1933-1934, partial reel.
Published weekly in New York City by the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Official organ of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Continues the Liberator. Continued by the Negro Liberator.
Inter-State Tattler (newspaper), 1925-1932, 1 reel.
Published weekly in New York by the Inter-State Tattler Company, beginning in 1925.
Liberator (newspaper), 1831-1865, 11 reels.
Published weekly in Boston, Massachusetts by William Lloyd Garrison and Isaac Knapp, 1831-1865.
Liberator (newspaper), 1929-1932, partial reel.
Published weekly in New York by the American Negro Labor Congress, 1929-1932. Official organ of the American Negro Labor Congress, 1929-1930; of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, 1931- 1932. Continued by the Harlem Liberator.
Messenger (newspaper), 1917-1928, 1 reel.
Published monthly in New York by the Messenger Publishing Company, 1917-1928.
NegroCollege Quarterly (periodical), 1943-1947, 1 reel.
Published quarterly in Wilberforce, Ohio by Wilberforce University, 1943-1947.
Negro Liberator (newspaper), 1934-1935, partial reel.
Published in New York City by the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Official organ of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Continues the Harlem Liberator.
Negro Worker (newspaper), 1931-1937, 1 reel.
Published monthly in Hamburg, Germany by the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, 1931-1937. Continues the International Negro Workers' Review.
New York Age (newspaper), 1905-1953, 24 reels. Published weekly in New York City by Fortune and Peterson, 1887-1953. "Devoted to the general interests of the American Citizens of African descent." Continued by the New York Age Defender.
New York Age (newspaper), 1957-1960, 3 reels.
Published weekly in New York City by Gotham Publishing Company, 1957-1960. Continues the New York Age Defender.
New York Age Defender (newspaper), 1953-1957, 5 reels.
Published weekly in New York City by the New York Age Publishing Company, 1953-1957. Continues the New York Age. Continued by the New York Age.
Quarterly Review of Higher Education Among Negroes (periodical), 1933-1940, 2 reels.
Published quarterly in Charlotte, North Carolina by Johnson C. Smith University, 1933-1969.
Voice of the Negro (periodical), 1904-1907, 1 reel.
Published monthly in Atlanta, Georgia by J.L.Nichols, 1904-1907.