The Grimké Sisters, Early American Abolitionists and Feminists

 

Angelina Emily Grimké Weld (1805–1879) Copy of engraved portrait of Angelina Grimké, ca. 1845. From Woman's Rights Collection, 1853–1958, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute.

I recently finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, a novel about an urban slave in early 19th-century Charleston, South Carolina, and her owners, the Grimké family. The author tells us that she was inspired by the historic figures of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, the first female abolition agents and among the earliest American feminists. According to Kidd, “Sarah was the first woman in the United States to write a comprehensive feminist manifesto, and Angelina was the first woman to speak before a legislative body.” After Sarah moved to Philadelphia and became a Quaker, she began speaking publicly against slavery and crusading for women’s rights. With her sister, Angelina, and Angelina’s husband, Theodore Weld, she wrote American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, a book that influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published 13 years later.

Since we have a well-developed collection of abolitionist materials, I decided to check out our catalog to see if the Phillips Library held any books by or about the Grimkés. We have copies of several of their published works, including American Slavery mentioned above.

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New Online Access to Digital Finding Aids

Hand-drawn Commission Merchant Card from MH 16, Benjamin Crowninshield Family Papers, announcing Ben Crowninshield as a Commission Merchant for New Orleans

The Phillips Library is pleased to announce that we have recently completed a project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a Federal agency which Congress established to promote the preservation and use of America’s documentary heritage. This project resulted in the processing of over 300 linear feet of archival materials of national significance.

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Josiah Cotton Preaching to the Indians

Josiah-Cotton-document

List of Indian sermons preached by Josiah Cotton, 1709-1710

While processing the papers of Reverend Joseph B. Felt of Salem, Massachusetts, I came across an interesting document. It is a tattered handwritten sheet of paper, repaired with tape, entitled “Indian sermons preached from October 28, 1709 to September 28, 1710.” You can read a list of places and dates and a brief text. It is signed by Josiah Cotton.

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