In Her Own Right

Cassey and Dickerson Friendship Albums

Date created 1833-1856, 1833-1882, 1840-1846
Creator Amy Matilda Cassey, Mary Anne Dickerson, Martina Dickerson
Abstract Friendship album of Amy Matilda Cassey, a middle-class African American woman active in the anti-slavery movement and African American cultural community, contains contributions dating from 1833 until 1856. Contains original and transcribed poems, prose, and essays on topics including slavery, womanhood, religion, friendship, female refinement, death, and love. Contributors, many women of the African American elite community, are prestigious reformers and abolitionists active in the anti-slavery, intelligentsia, and cultural community of the antebellum North including Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Baltimore. Albums belonging to Mary Anne and Martina Dickerson, young middle-class African American Philadelphians, were probably created as a pedagogical instrument to promote cultivated expression. Album belonging to Mary Anne Dickerson contains engraved plates depicting scenic views, and original and transcribed poems, prose, essays, and drawings on topics including friendship, motherhood, mortality, youth, death, flowers, female beauty, and refinement. Martina's album contains original and transcribed poems, prose, and essays on topics including love, friendship, sympathy, courage, and female refinement. Also includes drawings, primarily of flowers. Identified contributors in both are mainly black elite intelligentsia active in the African American anti-slavery and cultural community of mid-nineteenth century Philadelphia. Album belonging to Mary Anne Dickerson contains engraved plates depicting scenic views, and original and transcribed poems, prose, essays, and drawings on topics including friendship, motherhood, mortality, youth, death, flowers, female beauty, and refinement.
Research interest These albums offer a look at networks in action, showing how close-knit the abolitionist community was. Although the most number of entries come from members of Philadelphia's free black elite, contributors come from as far away as Boston and include such notable figures as the women and men in the Forten and Purvis families, Sarah Mapps Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone, and others. They document how important learning, erudition, aesthetics, and faith were to members of the black elite, but they also shed light on gender norms within this community. Included are some interesting elements of gender conservatism, including odes to domesticity, submission, and motherhood. Frederick Douglass's entry in the Cassey album contrasts the "beauty, elegance, and refinement" of the album with his own duty "to grapple with huge wrong--with gigantic tyranny--to launch the fierce denunciations of outraged and indignant men at the hoary headed oppression!," suggesting that these two worlds were incompatible. It would be of great interest to historians, then, to see if and how this context manifested itself in women's activism in such organizations as the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society.
Size P.9764: 1 album (76 leaves, 10 drawings), 13860.Q: 1 album (81 leaves, 7 plates, 4 illustrations), 13859.Q: 1 album (95 leaves, 4 drawings)
Full collection description Home repository description for Cassey and Dickerson Friendship Albums
View full item http://lcpalbumproject.org/?page_id=12
Contributing institution The Library Company of Philadelphia
Digital materials View items from the Cassey and Dickerson Friendship Albums