Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom

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Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom

February, 2010, marks the 250th birthday of Bishop Richard Allen, a revered figure in African American history and one of the nation’s leading abolitionists. Allen's life story is nothing short of extraordinary. Enslaved at birth, he eventually bought his freedom and became one of the most important African American leaders of his day. 

In honor of his birthday, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has partnered with its neighbor the Library Company of Philadelphia to bring you the online display, Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom. Learn about Richard Allen and his incredible story through a display of documents and images from both societies' collections.

Research materials used for this exhibition were compiled from the following sources:

Nash, Gary B. Forging Freeedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840. Cambridge, Harvard University Press. 1988.

Newman, Richard S. Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers. 2008.

Switala, William J. Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, Stackpole Books. 2001.

Original source material from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia. 

Any item in the exhibition that includes mainly text, whether it is handwritten or typeset, can be enlarged.  Simply click on the image and a larger format, better quality PDF of the image will open. 

To purchase a digital reproduction of an image seen in the exhibition that is part of the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, contact Rights & Reproductions at

To purchase a digital reproduction of any image seen in the exhibition that is part of the collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia, click here.

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