Emilie Davis’s Civil War by Judith Giesberg

Emilie Davis’s Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 edited by Judith Giesberg, transcribed and annotated by the Memorable Days Project Penn State Press, 240 pp., cloth $59.95, paper $16.95 Free African American servant and seamstress Emilie Davis lived in Philadelphia during the Civil War and recorded her daily experiences and thoughts in a diary from January...
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Dauphin County: Chocolates, Coal, and a Capital

Dauphin County celebrates its two hundredth anniver­sary this year. The events and themes that are the history of the county reflect the experience of Pennsylvania and the United States. Dauphin County has never been a homogeneous commu­nity; indeed, it is difficult to consider it as a single commu­nity. From the beginning it has comprised individuals of diverse ethnic, national and religious...
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Madman or Saint? Abolitionist John Brown

The door to the jail cell creaked open, and the condemned old man stared at his visitor, not recognizing the face. The one who entered spoke first, identifying himself as Morrow B. Lowry of Erie. The prisoner suddenly remembered, and “cordially and gratefully” greeted his friend of many years ago. Their reunion must have seemed strange and sad. Low­ry, learning that his former...
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The Black Press in Pennsylvania

I The Black press in Pennsylvania played a leading role in the struggle for Afro-American freedom in the pre-Civil War period. After the war, Afro-American tabloids in the Commonwealth were among the first newspapers to call for the civil rights and enfranchise­ment of Afro-Americans in the South and North. Fre­quently, editors of these newspapers became elected politicians and they used their...
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Black Harrisburg’s Resistance to Slavery

In April 18, 1825, a fugitive slave from Mary­land was found by his owner in Harrisburg and was imprisoned in the Dauphin County jail. A hearing on the matter was held in the courthouse that day, with Judge Bucher presiding. It took most of the day to con­vince the Judge that the slave should be returned to the custody of the slaveholder, during which time, according to the Pennsylvania...
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Toward Freedom: Pittsburgh Blacks, 1800-1870

Throughout the antebellum period in the United States, two of the most volatile issues were the abolition of slavery and Blacks’ civil rights. Conventions, meetings, and written memorials to state and federal governmental bodies regarding these concerns abounded. Both Black and white residents of cities and towns became involved in the slavery question, while Black residents, primarily,...
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A Black Underground: Resistance to Slavery, 1833-1860

The Underground Railroad is an important historical link with which most Pennsylvanians are familiar. Ever since William Still, the Black histo­rian, published his famous record of fugitive aid in 1872, however, many have questioned whether in reality the Underground Railroad existed. Some say that fugitive aid in Pennsylvania was rendered individually and spontaneously. Others say that an...
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Calligraphy Version of Washington Irving’s Poem “The Wife”

Amy Matilda Cassey, the wife of affluent African American abolitionist, businessman, and community leader Joseph Cassey, was active in the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society, local black literary and debating societies, and reform movements of the day. Her greatest contribution, however, may be an album she compiled that spans nearly a quarter-century. From 1833 to 1856, Cassey filled her...
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Underground Railroad

Because of its proximity to the Mason-Dixon Line, Pennsylvania was a major crossroads of the Underground Railroad. Although much has been written about people, sites, and events associated with the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, little had been researched on the capital city’s role until recently. In April 2000, as part of the annual Conference on Black History in Pennsylvania, the...
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Two Stationmasters on the Underground Railroad: A Tale of Black and White

As clerk of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s General Vigilance Committee, William Still (1821-1902) had grown accustomed to surprises. Not only did the young, free black abolitionist coordinate the Eastern Line of the Underground Railroad by finding shelter and escape routes to the North for fugitive slaves, but also he recorded their heart wrenching stories of inhumane treatment...
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