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Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records

Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society (Salem, Mass.)
Title:Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records
Quantity:0.75 linear feet (2 boxes)
Abstract:The Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records contain correspondence, record books, account books, bills and receipts from 1834 until the Society's dissolution in 1866.
Collection Number:MSS 34

Series List

SERIES I. Records and Accounts
SERIES II. Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

The Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records contain correspondence, record books, account books, bills and receipts from 1834 until the Society's dissolution in 1866. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I. Records and Accounts consists of record books, which also contain the Society's preamble and constitution, record of the officers elected each year, meeting minutes, and a list of speakers at the annual lecture series.

Series II. Correspondence contains correspondence from 1834 until 1863, and primarily concerns arrangements with speakers for the annual lecture series. Included in the collection are letters from prominent abolitionists such as Susan B. Anthony, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Wendell Phillips. See Appendix I for an index to the correspondence.

Historical Note

The Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society (SFASS) was formed on June 4, 1834, as a sister organization of the Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity, which was formed in January 1834. Both organizations were local chapters of the American Anti-Slavery Society, which had been organized by William Lloyd Garrison in 1844. The preamble to the SFASS's constitution stated its three principles: that slavery should be immediately abolished; that people of color, enslaved or free, have a right to a home in this country and nothing should be done to discourage them from wishing to remain here; and that the society should be ready to acknowledge people of color people as friends and equals. These principles, in addition to the American Anti-Slavery Society's principles, were in direct opposition to the American Colonization Society, which had been founded in 1817, with the objective to emancipate slaves and transport them with all other free blacks to a "homeland" in Africa.

The majority of SFASS membership was comprised of wives and daughters of the members of the Anti-Slavery Society of Salem (ASSSV), who were largely from Salem's middle and professional classes. Members included Mrs. Cyrus P. Grosvenor, wife of the Baptist minister who was president of ASSSV, and Lydia L. Dodge, the daughter of William B. Dodge, a prominent educator and president of ASSSV. Lucy G. Ives, who served as SFASS vice president from1835 until 1841 and president from 1842 until 1865, was the wife of William B. Ives, the publisher of the Salem Observer, which supported abolition. Amy Redmond, who was part of Salem's prominent black Redmond, was elected vice president in 1855.

The activities of the SFASS changed throughout its 30-year existence. Early activities of the Society included distributing clothes to freed blacks in the area, supporting the National Anti-Slavery Bazaar at Faneuil Hall, organizing a sewing school for black girls, and aiding fugitive slaves in Canada. The Society supported the Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper printed by William Lloyd Garrison, by buying ten subscriptions which were donated to various organizations. They also appropriated funds to make Reverend George B. Cheever and Cyrus Grosvenor lifetime members of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. In 1835, the SFASS raised funds to support the care of a black child, Henrietta Nichols, in the Boston Samaritan Asylum. In 1837, the SFASS also held a fair on Christmas Day at which they sold items sewn by Society members.

Between 1844 and 1862, the Society organized an annual anti-slavery lecture series. The lectures were held in the fall on successive Sunday nights in either Mechanic or Lyceum Hall in Salem. Abolitionists such as Lucy Stone, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, Charles Lenox Remond, and William Lloyd Garrison, who travelled on circuit tours across the country, were requested to speak. The lecture series usually concluded each year with Garrison.

With its' primary goal, the abolition of slavery, accomplished during the Civil War, the Society voted to dissolve on January 3, 1866. It was recorded in the minutes of the final meeting that there were members who "thought that was much to be done before our country could be free from the curse of slavery, but that our work was now to be done in other ways." Some SFASS members joined the Freedman's Aid Society and similar organizations. The Society voted at its final meeting to deposit its records at the library of the Essex Institute.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906
Appleton, Frank P. (Frank Parker), 1822-
Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
Channing, William Henry, 1810-1884
Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
Frothingham, Frederick, 1825-1891
Frothingham, Octavius Brooks, 1822-1895
Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911
Mott, Lucretia (Coffin), 1793-1880
Parker, Theodore, 1810-1860
Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884
Pillsbury, Parker, 1809-1898
Remond, Charles Lenox, 1810-1873
Remond, Sarah Parker, 1826-1887
Roberts, Adelaide
Sanborn, Franklin Benjamin, 1831-1917
Stone, Lucy, 1818-1893
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
Woodbury, Augustus, 1825-189
Salem Female Anti-slavery Society (Salem, Mass.)
Women--Societies and clubs
Salem (Mass.)--Societies, etc.


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society Records, MSS 34, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated in 1866 by the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Michael Doll, [1980s]. Updated by Hilary Streifer, September 2014.

Related Material

Begin, Ruth. "Sarah Parker Remond: Black Abolitionist from Salem," Essex Institute Historical Collections, April 1974.

Stone, Thomas T. Address Before the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society: At its Annual Meeting, December 7, 1851. Salem: William Ives and Company, 1852.

Tyler, Alice. Freedoms Ferment. Minneapolis, MN: 1944.

Usrey, Miriam L. "Charles Lenox Remond, Garrison's Ebony Echo, World Anti-Slavery Convention, 1841," Essex Institute Historical Collections, April 1970.

White, Arthur O. "Salem's Antebellum Black Community: Seebed of the School Integration Movement," Essex Institute Historical Collections, April 1972.

Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity (Mass.), 1834-1840, 1886. MSS 35

Appendix I

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