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"I have gone quietly to work for the support of my three children:" African-American mothers in New York City, 1827-1877.

Phoebe Morris was born in New Jersey in 1820 and moved to New York City with her family in 1827, the same year that New York State abolished slavery. She had met her husband, Samuel Sisco, "sometime during the war with Mexico" and they had had four children over the next decade. "No we were never married but lived together as man and wife and were so recognized by all our friends," she recounted. "I was a New Jersey slave and we were not as particular in old days about getting married as they are now but I always considered myself his wife just the same as if we had been married by a preacher." In the city, the couple had first lived on Le Roy Street and then moved to Houston Street to a larger dwelling, which could accommodate their growing family. Phoebe Sisco worked as a servant while her husband took a job as a whitewasher.

The Sisco family, like all of New York City's African Americans, witnessed the violence and depravity of the Draft Riot that erupted in July of 1863. During the four-day melee, white mobs protested the first federally enacted draft. Blaming the black population for the Union's involvement in the Civil War, rioters targeted the city's African Americans. After the race riot, however, over one hundred black men from the city enlisted in the United States Colored Infantry in order to demonstrate their support for the Union troops. Samuel Sisco was no exception. He mustered in as a private for one of New York City's three black regiments on March 5, 1864. "While he was in the army he sent me relief money," recalled Phoebe Sisco. "I got $60 first and after that Mr. Cooper of 71 Jayne Street collected the money for me and my children. We got a card to come and get the relief money for soldiers' families." Following his discharge in 1865, Samuel Sisco reunited with his family and went back to his work as a whitewasher. He fell ill shortly after his return to the city and, unable to work any longer, he moved to the Colored Home near 72nd Street where he died in 1880. According to Phoebe, "Samuel Sisco did not leave me a thing whatsoever. I can get out days work. I do what I can. I am too old to work much.... I have to depend on charity and such assistance that my neighbors and children can give. I have no other means of support and have no property or income of any kind." Her neighbor confirmed that, "Phoebe has (no) income except from her own labor." (2)

For emancipated women in the North, like Phoebe Sisco, freedom allowed them to own their labor, reunite with their families, and live wherever they wished. Yet emancipation also brought about a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges for African-American women. Like all free women of African descent in the Americas, women in New York City negotiated the economic and social legacy of slavery. They endured both sex-based and race-based discrimination in all aspects of their lives, including employment, housing, and associational activities. Moreover, they often grappled with the difficulties of urban life in overcrowded cities like New York. In spite of these dire circumstances, however, these freedwomen managed to eke out an existence, raise their families, and sustain their communities.

African-American freedwomen residing in New York City worked to support themselves and their families. They played a central role in the city's labor force, although gender and racial expectations relegated them to the fringes of the changing economy. They also helped to sustain their community by providing emotional and financial support to its numerous black institutions and clubs. During the racial violence of the New York City Draft Riot in 1863, black women protected their families and neighbors. And when their husbands, fathers, and sons joined the United States Colored Troops to fight in the Civil War, those same women took on the responsibility of providing financial stability for their families. When the war ended and the federal government set out to reconstruct the South, African-American women in New York City repaired their community that had been ravaged by racial violence.

Black women believed that their most important job was to care for their children. This study will examine how women cared for black children in four key ways: by creating family stability, through the promotion of education, by providing physical protection from violence, and in offering moral and financial wellbeing. In spite of the tremendously challenging circumstances facing free blacks in the metropolis, women ensured the safety of their children.

Scholars examining free people of color during the nineteenth century have generally asked how brutality and discrimination impacted the black community. (3) This debate over the survival of African Americans has tended to obscure the fact that diverse groups comprised the free black community and that gender profoundly affected the black experience. (4) The reliance on the question of resiliency as the basic framework for analyzing free African Americans has resulted in a portrayal of the black community as monolithic. My study differs from the work of other historians because it provides an analysis of free women of color residing in nineteenth-century New York City and focuses on their roles as mothers. Moreover, it examines the complex lives of the majority of urban women of color who worked both inside and outside of the home serving as laborers, wives, activists, defenders, and most importantly, mothers.

African-American women established stable households in order to care for their children and they did so in a number of ways. Black women brought families together, adjusted their employment experiences in order to care for children, and maintained stability in spite of various dislocations. They assumed the bulk of the household duties including cleaning, washing, cooking, and, most importantly, child-rearing. Additionally, black women often worked outside of the home to earn wages that contributed to the overall financial support of those residing in their homes. New York City's African-American women forged strong kinship ties and developed many alternative family forms following emancipation. They created a number of household arrangements in order to achieve emotional and financial sustenance outside of the institution of marriage. Many lived in households containing nuclear families and some housed two or more distinct families. Still others adopted orphaned children into their homes and raised them as their own. In an analysis of over 7,000 African-American employing one of these strategies augmented households between 1850 and 1870, approximately one half. (5)

In addition to caring for their own biological children, many black women adopted non-related children into their families. An analysis of papers from the Colored Orphan Asylum confirms that many black children lived with women who were not their natural mothers. In 1850, 9% of African-American households contained one or more children not biologically related to the family. (6) Born in 1859, Emeline David lost both of her parents shortly thereafter. Mrs. Anna Lowry, a family friend, adopted the baby girl when her parents died. In 1862, Lowry's husband enlisted and left to fight in the war. Lowry struggled to make ends meet without her husband yet still raised her adopted daughter. (7)

In another case, an elderly African-American widow named Mary Garret resided next to a young couple in the Fifth Ward. On July 3, 1852, James and Hannah Jackson had a baby girl named Sarah Ann. With no relatives in the city, the Jackson family treated Mary Garrett like a grandmother to their child. But when Sarah was only a year old, she lost both of her parents; James and Hannah Jackson died in 1853. Mary Garrett stepped in to help the orphaned girl and adopted her as a daughter. Garrett raised Sarah Ann as her own child. Officials noted "this orphan has been kept by a poor window for more than a year without compensation." (8)

Women often changed jobs when they married and had children, demonstrating their emphasis on the care of their children. Some stopped working in wage-earning positions altogether in order to spend more time with their families while others took jobs that allowed them to work out of their homes. In 1828, Polly Hopkins found herself unable to take care of her children on her husband's wages. She returned to work as a washerwoman in order to support her family. "I have gone quietly to work for the support of my three children," she recalled. (9) Phoebe Sisco resigned from her job as a live-in servant when she settled down with Samuel Sisco. As the two started their family, she took in work as a washer to contribute to the financial survival of her four children. (10)

Black women followed a wage-earning cycle in their employment lives and this cycle was often dictated by their desire to care for children. Generally, African-American women tended to take work as washers during their child-rearing years. While servants were generally younger single women, laundresses were more often slightly older married women with children. In 1860, nearly half of black female washerwomen were between the ages of thirty and forty-four. (11) The percentage of black washerwomen in that age bracket dropped slightly to 42% in 1870. African-American mothers performed their washing duties at home and therefore could keep an eye on their children while they worked. Often, children aided their mothers by delivering the clean clothes and retrieving the payment for the work. Additionally, mothers often enlisted the help of their children in completing the task. Black women turned to washing because it offered them the freedom of living at home with their families. Moreover, washing did not require a huge outlay of money for equipment because women washed clothes for their families as well.

In some cases, women of color turned to washing when they faced dire financial circumstances. Sarah Johnson took in work as a washer when her husband left her and she quickly needed to find employment. Johnson recounted that her husband drank too much and that he did not support her financially. In order to earn a living, therefore, she turned to washing. According to Johnson, he "drank so and would not support me and I washed for my living." (12) When Nancy Reed's husband died, she took a job washing and ironing to support herself. (13) Caroline Cornelius worked as a washer when her husband died. Her neighbors observed that she "is dependent upon her daily labor of washing and ironing." (14)

Although many wage-earning women worked as servants, most black women did not hold such jobs for the entire lives. Rather, black women often held servant positions at the beginning of their wage-earning careers. Most live-in servants were very young and few had their own families at the same time that they resided with their employers. Few women remained in positions as live-in servants following marriage or childbirth. Only five out of 644 female servants held their live-in positions at the same time that they raised their children in 1860. (15) And between 1850 and 1870, over half of female servants were under the age of thirty. (16) This suggests that African-American female laborers exercised a degree of control over their employment experiences by refusing to reside with their employers when they began their own families. Phoebe Sisco, for example, left her servant position in the house of William Moss when she met her husband in 1847. "I used to work for his mother-in-law Ms. Randall," recalled Sisco, before she left to marry her husband. She continued to work in the wage-earning sector yet took a job as a live-out housekeeper so that she could spend her evenings with her family. (17) When Charity Jaycox married Jacob Johnson in 1858, she quit her job as a servant for the Blackman family and moved in with her husband. (18) Widowed women or those with adult children often returned to positions as servants. Margaret Johnson, a sixty-year old widow, returned to a position as a servant following the death of her husband. (19)

African-American washerwoman earned the respect of both the black and white press during the nineteenth century. In 1869, the New York Times reported that most black women worked as washerwomen and observed that they were "very industriously inclined, and are generally contented with the weekly money they earn." (20) James McCune Smith, a black doctor, described the work of a washer as she cleaned and ironed the clothes. Shirts hung from every corner of the tiny kitchen in the apartment that was "hot as an oven." Smith also sketched a description of the washerwoman as tidying their homes following their work. "No sign of toil is there, everything tidy, neat and clear; all the signs of the hard week's work stowed away in drawers or in the cellar." (21)

In addition to juggling their duties as employees and mothers, black women also struggled to create household stability when large numbers of African-American men enlisted in the Civil War. Between 1863 and 1864, 101 African-American men from New York City enlisted in the city's three regiments for the United States Colored Troops. (22) The enlistment of African-American men strained their families both financially as well as emotionally. Upon their husbands' enlistment, African-American women developed a number of strategies to create stability. They moved in with other families, pooled their resources, and negotiated with federal authorities in order to obtain money from the fund for active soldiers. Phoebe Sisco sought financial help from the soldiers' relief fund in order to support her four children.

The second area in which black women demonstrated their concern for children was through their promotion of education. Black women stressed education as means of uplifting the community. Some women served as teachers while other women sewed garments to provide children with clothes in order to attend school. They also supported the African Free Schools through fundraising efforts. The New York Manumission Society erected the first school in 1787. After it burned down, they built the second African school on Mulberry Street in 1820. In 1850, 3,393 black children attended school. (23) In the 1857 Report of the New York Society for the Promotion of Education Among Colored Children, 1,153 of the 3,000 African American children living in New York City attended school. (24) The black press implored community leaders, parents, and ministers to encourage young people to attend the schools. (25) The schools were divided into male and female sections with different courses taught to each. While boys were schooled in reading, writing, and arithmetic, girls additionally taught the subjects of sewing and knitting. The minimum age for children to attend the school was five years old and the fee for attendance was on a sliding scale form twenty-five cents to one dollar. Those unable to afford the minimum amount were admitted for free. (26)

African-American women often took on the occupation of educator within the black community. Free women of color worked in a number of different teaching positions including those of Bible schoolteachers, music instructors, and teachers at the African Free schools. In 1828, New York City's free black community opened the Female School located on Mulberry Street in order to accommodate young black girls residing in the upper parts of the city. The trustees sought a "competent Female Teacher" capable of teaching writing, math, geography, and needlework. (27) According to the 1860 Census, 15 black women held jobs as teachers as compared to nine men. (28)

African-American women ensured that their children attended school. An advertisement in the Colored American called upon mothers to prepare their children for the opening of a new African school. "Come, mothers, let the juvenile throng to be let loose; don't keep them at home for trifles." (29) African-American women also worked to secure funds for the city's African schools. In 1850 and 1851, members of the female North Star Association held fairs to raise money for the Colored Orphan Asylum and School. (30) This emphasis on children's education resulted in a high proportion of black students in school. Between 1850 and 1870, the percentage of African-American children enrolled in school jumped dramatically. In 1850, one-third of the city's school-age children attended school. By 1860, more than one-half did and, in 1870, 60% of African-American children attended. (31)

Black women emphasized the importance of black education among children and they met at a number of club activities in order to organize intellectual endeavors for black youth. In 1839, the Clarkson Association, a women's literary society, sponsored an evening school to be held at Rutgers's church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings at 7 o'clock. (32) Others founded the New York Female Literary Society in 1834 and organized a number of intellectual events for children and adults. (33) In celebration of their third anniversary, for example, the Society sponsored a speech by Elizabeth Jennings, a black teacher and activist in New York City. Jennings spoke about the importance of education among blacks. Additionally, the society sponsored a number of fairs in order to raise money for the continued publication of The Colored American. Many black female educators encouraged African Americans to improve their minds. In an obituary about Henrietta D. Ray, a teacher, Samuel Cornish praised her for promoting the importance of education for blacks. She was the wife of Reverend Charles Ray and also served as the president of the Female Literary Society. Her 1837 obituary that "she possessed a giant mind for improvement, and persevering industry in making investigations ...". (34) Later that same year, the Phoenix School, an academy dedicated to the education of young, black women, closed its doors due to economic problems. The Trustees of the school could not pay the rent of $300 and sought help from the community. They failed to collect adequate funds, however. A local newspaper called the closure of the school a "grievous calamity." (35)

At the third anniversary of the Ladies Literary Society of the City of New York City, women participated in readings, musical performances, and poetic addresses. The female organizers of the event stressed the importance of improving one's mind. "We should cultivate those powers and dispositions of the mind, which may provide advantageous to us," advised one speaker. She encouraged women to improve themselves in order to demonstrate their intellect. "Neglect will plunge us into deeper degradation, and keep us groveling in the dust, while our enemies will rejoice and say, we do not believe they (colored people) have any minds; if they have, they are unsusceptible of improvement. My sisters, allow me to ask the question, shall we bring this reproach on ourselves? Doubtless you answer NO, we will strive to avoid it." (36)

Women also worked to raise funds for the support of education. One of the best-known female institutions in New York City was the African Dorcas Society. Founded in the winter of 1828, black ministers and leaders of abolition organizations formed the society. They created a "Fragment society" in order to enlist the help of women to provide clothing for African-American children attending the African Free Schools. Black leaders noticed that many children "absent themselves from school, and, as we have reason to believe, that such absence in numerous instances, is owing to want of suitable clothing." The new association set out to procure donations in clothing and furnish them to black students. The leaders appointed an advising committee comprised of the minister of each African church in New York City and the committee arranged meetings for the society. (37)

African-American women also worked hard to protect all black children from racial discrimination. The violence of the 1863 New York City Draft Riot affected all members of the city's African-American community. The riot, ostensibly against the draft lottery slated to begin on Monday, July 13, quickly became a race riot as mobs turned their attention to the city's black population. Rioters beat African Americans, ransacked their apartments, set fires to their homes, and murdered at least eleven members of the black community. (38) While gangs reserved their most brutal and malicious attacks for African- American men, women suffered as well. Rioters harassed black women, drove them from their homes, and stole their possessions.

Black women placed the safety of their children as their utmost concern during the rioting. Susan Reed, a washerwoman who resided on East 28th Street with her elderly mother and her two children, tried to protect her family from the violence. She arranged for her son and daughter to remain at home with their grandmother while she returned the laundry to her employer. While she was gone, however, rioters approached their home. Mrs. Simmons, Reed's mother, quickly departed with Joseph, a seven year old disabled boy, and his infant sister. In the confusion of the riot, however, Reed lost his grandmother and sister and a mob set upon him. A passing firefighter rescued Reed and placed him in the care of a German neighbor. A week after the attack, however, the child died from the injuries he had incurred at the hands of the rioters. (39)

In another case, a mother attempted to protect her teenage son from the violent mobs. Mrs. Statts, mother of William Henry Nichols, tried to keep the rioters away from him. "I hid my son behind me and ran with him to the back door, down into the basement," she recalled. The rioters realized that African Americans hid in the basement, however. In order to force them out of the cellar, the crowd cut the Croton water pipes with their axes so that water flooded into the room. Mrs. Statts, along with ten other women and children, fled the basement in hopes of escaping through the backyard of the home on Twenty-ninth street. Unfortunately, a crowd awaited them. The rioters attacked her son, hitting him over the head with a crowbar. He died two days later at New York Hospital. (40)

In addition to protecting their own children, black women protected orphans residing at the Colored Orphan Asylum. Mobs threatened the two hundred children living at the Asylum located on the corner of Forty-third Street and Fifth Avenue. On Monday night, a group of four hundred rioters approached the asylum. They broke down the front door of the four-story building and told the matrons that they had ten minutes to vacate the building. While the matrons took the children out of the back door, mobs looted the building, stealing beds, chairs, and tables. After they ransacked the building, they set it on fire. (41) The female teachers removed the children to the local police station that night and then relocated to the Federal Arsenal. Police escorted the orphans to Blackwell's Island for safety. (42) As the female teachers at the asylum worked to ensure the safety of the children under their care, they lost most of their personal possessions to looting or fire. In the weeks after the riot, two teachers filed claims with the city for repayment of possessions lost during the violence. Maria Burns, a teacher at the school, lost over $250 of personal property while another instructor, Sarah Hare, lost nearly $500 worth of her possessions. (43)

In 1860, four African-American nurses resided at the Colored Orphan Asylum located in Ward 19. Addlia Butler, a 40-year-old nurse from New York lived at the asylum as did Elizabeth Edin, Harriet Penton, and Sarah Smith. (44) When rioters attacked the Colored Orphan Asylum in July of 1863, the black female nurses protected the children. The women held the rioters at bay until they shuttled the children out the back door and to the local police station. Authorities then moved them to Blackwell's Island. (45) Mobs also attacked the home of Mrs. Simmons who resided on East 28th Street in the Twentieth Ward. Simmons managed to escape with two of her children in tow yet had no time to save any of their possessions before flames engulfed their home. They lost everything. During that same week, Simmons learned that her oldest son, a sergeant in the United States Colored Troops Fifty-fourth Massachusetts regiment, had been captured in battle. As riots broke out in New York City on July 13, 1863, African-American regiments from Massachusetts fought at Morris Island, South Carolina. (46) In the aftermath of the violent week, the Simmons family left New York City to find a home elsewhere.

Some women responded to the outbreak of violence by gathering their families and leaving the city. Newspapers reported that, on July 15, a number of families collected their supplies and furniture on carts and left New York City. (47) Reports estimated that over 5,000 black New Yorkers fled in hopes of escaping the violence. Over two hundred African Americans fled to the eastern part of Brooklyn where they hid in the woods. (48) Others took refuge in New Jersey, Long Island, and areas throughout New England. (49) One woman recounted her mother's attempt to save her children. "Mother with her children undertook the hazardous journey of getting to New England. After a brief rest in New London, we reached Salem tired, travel-stained, with only the garments we had on." (50) Others fled in the middle of the night and left with only the possessions that they could carry. The black press in Philadelphia reported that, "Many are leaving for other states; some for Boston. Many are going to the country, never to return again." (51) Some decided to leave the city permanently. The overall population of African-American New Yorkers dropped from 12,574 in 1860 to 9,943 in 1865. (52)

During the riot week, African-American women sought refuge at their local police precincts. Women and children arrived at station houses, seeking protection from the mobs. On the night of July 14, more than twenty-eight women and nearly as many children slept in one station house. On that same night, over fifty women and children slept in the precinct near Sullivan Street. (53) When she was evicted from her home on 52nd Street in the midst of the riot, a black woman and her two children sought protection at the station house located on Forty-seventh Street. (54) Others went to Police Headquarters. Nearly two hundred African Americans hid from the mobs at headquarters where officers housed them in the upper story of the station house. (55) They received food and medical care there. One black paper reported that "many of them make themselves useful by scrubbing and sweeping the rooms, and waiting upon those who need their help." (56) Mrs. D. recalled her attempts to find protection from the mobs. "I was driven from my own home on Tuesday, and from the house where I sought refuge on Wednesday. I and my three children finally reached the Police Headquarters." (57) Another woman headed to headquarters after her white neighbors threatened to blow up her home. (58)

Women often reunited with their families at the station houses. One woman recalled that, "I was driven from my own home on Tuesday, and from the house where I sought refuge on Wednesday. I and my three (sic) children finally reached the Police Headquarters." Once there, she met with her husband who had disappeared at the onset of the rioting. (59) According to another woman, "I then picked up my babe and sought shelter in a house on Lexington Avenue. The next day I went to Police Headquarters, and soon after my arrival, some firemen of No. 39 Co., found my little boy hid in a box. I lost him in my haste from the rioters." She also found her oldest daughter when she arrived at the police station. (60)

Finally, African-American women demonstrated their concern for their children by promoting the religious and moral values among black youth. Black women worked with local churches, such as the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, to provide religious education for black children. The doctrines of the church called for the formation of a Sabbath school for children. The church leaders wrote that, "In order to benefit the rising generation, let him who is zealous for God and the souls of men begin now, and where there are ten children whose parents are in society, meet them an hour once a week; but where this is impracticable, meet them once in two weeks." The church also required children to commit Methodist instructions to memory. (61)

Some black women took on a leadership role in promoting children's' religious education. Catherine Ferguson founded the city's first Sunday school and taught in a room at a church located on Murray Street. (62) Some female societies affiliated with black churches worked specifically to aid the struggle for civil rights. In her statement to the vestry of St. Philip's Church in 1874, Cornelia Gugnow asked for permission to form the Women's Auxiliary Association. She wrote that, "although the Woman's Auxiliary Association is not intended by any means to exclude male members but respectfully solicit memberships from all who may feel disposed to forward the cause." (63)

Most laboring women struggled financially and worked hard to make ends meet. Additionally, many black women tried to secure their financial futures by opening savings accounts. Following the Civil War, many women placed their money in the New York branch of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. (64) Established in 1865 by an act of Congress, the Freedman's Bank was designed as a banking institution for freed slaves. Banks also opened in northern free states as well and over thirty-three branches were established between 1865 and 1870. The New York City bank opened in 1866 and remained open until the company failed in 1874. Minimum deposits to the Freedman's Bank consisted of five cents yet interest was only paid on sums more than one dollar.

A wide range of black women--those with large amounts of money to those with little to spare--deposited funds in the Freedman's Bank. Even women who held low-paying jobs tried to save money and place it in a savings account. Patsey Booker, for example, was born a slave in Richmond, Virginia and moved to New York City in 1872. She worked as a washer and ironer from her home at 172 Thompson Street where she lived with her husband Sidney and her three children, William, Elizabeth and Julia. Patsey deposited $15.50 on January 15, 1872. (65) Mothers also encouraged their children to save their money. Sarah Bacon, the mother of two children, brought her nine year-old son to the bank to deposit twenty cents on January 3, 1872. (66) Margaret Jane Council, a twenty-nine year-old domestic who worked at 183 Thompson Street, deposited six dollars on December 28, 1871. (67) Many black women attempted to create a financial safety net by putting aside any money that they could spare. They also tried to instill these financial values in their children. (68)

African-American freedwomen residing in New York City worked to support themselves and their families. They played a central role in the city's labor force, although gender and racial expectations relegated them to the fringes of the changing economy. They also helped to sustain their community by providing emotional and financial support to its numerous black institutions and clubs. During the racial violence of the New York City Draft Riot in 1863, black women protected their families and neighbors. And when their husbands, fathers, and sons joined the United States Colored Troops to fight in the Civil War, those same women took on the responsibility of providing financial stability for their families. When the war ended and the federal government set out to reconstruct the South, African-American women in New York City repaired their community that had been ravaged by racial violence. In spite of all of these challenges, black women created family stability, promoted education, offered protection from violence, and guided religious and moral growth for their children. Black women considered their jobs as mothers as their most important roles in nineteenth-century New York City.

(2) Civil War Pension Records, Records of the Veteran's Administration, Record Group 15, National Archives and Record Service, Washington DC (Samuel Sisco). Hereafter cited as CWPR and name of soldier.

(3) This historiographical debate originates in studies of American slavery and can clearly be traced to the work of Kenneth Stampp and Stanley Elkins. See Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Antebellum South (New York, 1956); Stanley Elkins, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life (Chicago, 1959).

In studies of free blacks, a similar debate has emerged. For scholars who argue about the resiliency of free African Americans, see Leon F. Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (Chicago, 1961); Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York, 1974); James Oliver Horton and Lois Horton, Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North (New York, 1979); James Oliver Horton and Lois Horton, In Hope of Liberty (1997). For arguments about the tragic consequences of urban racism, see Theodore Hershberg, "Free Blacks in Antebellum Philadelphia: A study of Ex-Slaves, Freeborn, and Socioeconomic Decline" in Journal of Social History, Volume 5 (December 1971), 183-209 and Leonard P. Curry, The Free Black in Urban America, 1800-1850: The Shadow and the Dream (Chicago, 1981).

(4) A number of recent studies have investigated the unique role of African-American women in the black community yet none have studied the experience of free women of color residing in New York City during the nineteenth century. See Suzanne Lebsock, The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town (New York, 1984); Deborah Gray White, Ar 'n't I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York, 1985); Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work and the Family, from Slavery to the Present (New York, 1985); Loren Schweninger, "Property Owning Free African-American Women in the South," in Journal of Women's History, Volume I, Number 3 (Winter 1990); Adele Logan Alexander, Ambiguous Lives: Free Women of Color in Rural Georgia, 1789-1879 (Fayetteville, 1991); James Oliver Horton, Free People of Color: Inside the African American Community (Washington, DC, 1993); Brenda E. Stevenson, Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South (New York, 1996). See also, Tera W. Hunter, To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War (Cambridge, 1997).

(5) United States Manuscript Census (hereafter USMC), 1850, 1860, 1870.

(6) USMC, 1850. In 1850, 245 households out of 2,872 black households contained a child who was not related to the other members residing there. In their analysis of African-American children in nineteenth-century Boston, James and Lois Horton found a similar pattern. They calculated that 9-12% of the city's black children did not live with their natural parents. Horton and Horton, Black Bostonians, 18.

(7) Admission Papers from the Association for the Relief of Colored Orphans, 1845-1866 (NYHS).

(8) Admission Papers from the Association for the Relief of Colored Orphans, 1845-1866, New York Historical Society (NYHS).

(9) Freedom's Journal, September 12, 1828.

(10) CWPR (Samuel Sisco).

(11) USMC, 1860.

(12) CWPR (George Johnson).

(13) CWPR (Sylvester Reed).

(14) CWPR (Nicholas Cornelius)

(15) USMC, 1860. An analysis of 644 live-in servants shows that five women held live-in positions with small children ranging in age from four months to four years old.

(16) USMC, 1860 and 1870. In 1860, 53% of female servants were under thirty and, in 1870, 55% of domestics were that young.

(17) CWPR (Samuel Sisco).

(18) CWPR (John Johnson).

(19) CWPR (Jacob Johnson).

(20) New York Times, March 2, 1869.

(21) We Are Your Sisters, ed. Sterling, 215-216.

(22) One hundred on men who enlisted in the New York African-American regiments noted New York City as their city of residence. Muster Rolls from USCT (20th, 26th, and 31st), 1863-1864, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

(23) Frederick Douglass' Paper, February 5, 1852.

(24) A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States, ed. Herbert Aptheker (New York, 1951), 398; James W. Johnson, Black Manhattan, 20.

(25) The Colored American, March 25, 1837.

(26) Rights of All, May 29, 1829. Other schools charged higher fees. In 1827, for example, B.F. Hughes advertised his school for colored children of both sexes, which required payments of two to four dollars per quarter. See Freedom's Journal, March 16, 1827.

(27) Freedom's Journal, August 8, 1828.

(28) USMC, 1860.

(29) The Colored American, August 28, 1841.

(30) Sterling, 118-119.

(31) USMC, 1850, 1860, and 1870.

(32) The Colored American, November 23, 1839.

(33) Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837, ed. Dorothy Porter, (Boston 1971), 569.

(34) The Colored American, March 4, 1837.

(35) The Colored American, July 1, 1837.

(36) The Colored American, September 23, 1837.

(37) Freedom's Journal, February 1, 1828. This issue contains the constitution of the African Dorcas Association; Freedom's Journal, September 26, 1828; Freedom's Journal, October 3, 1828; Freedom's Journal, November 21, 1828; Freedom's Journal, January 9, 1829; Freedom's Journal, March 14, 1829.

(38) Adrian Cook, The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots (Lexington, 1974) and Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society in the Age of the Civil War (New York, 1990). Iver Bernstein and Adrian Cook argue that a small number of blacks perished during the riots. While Cook mentions that more African Americans may have died at the hands of the mobs, he dismisses the possibility by contending that blacks seeking charitable aid may have fabricated the number of deaths in hopes of receiving more money. Cook does acknowledge, however, that a number of black bodies recovered from the rivers may have died during the rioting.

An analysis of the newspaper accounts of the New York Times, however, suggests that more African Americans may have died during the rioting. An article from Thursday, July 16, stated that two African American children died from gunshot wounds at their home at 59 Thompson Street. On July 17, the New York Times also reported that a "scores of those unfortunates have been thrown into the river and drowned, for no other reason than that they were obnoxious to the sensitive-minded individuals of a lighter color." These reports coupled with the accounts of other riot victims suggest that the number of deaths from the riot may have been closer to twenty.

(39) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 18-19; Headley, 275-276.

(40) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 16-17; Headley, 271-272.

(41) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 24-25; New York Times, July 14, 1863.

(42) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 24-25. While the local newspapers as well as the Report of the Merchants reported that the mobs warned the teachers and matrons of their intention to burn the asylum, the Liberator argued that no such warning was given: "It has been erroneously stated in all the city papers that warning was given at the Asylum for Colored Orphans of the intention of the mob, in order that the inmates might be removed.... No notice whatever was given, and nothing saved the children from the flames and from the fury of these demons, except the fidelity and coolness of the Superintendent." The Liberator, August 21, 1863.

(43) The Pacific Appeal, September, 19, 1863.

(44) USMC, 1860.

(45) Report of the Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People Suffering from the Late Riots in the City of New York (New York, 1863), 24-25.

(46) Report of the Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People Suffering from the Late Riots in the city of New York, (New York, 1863), 26-27.

(47) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 26.

(48) The Anglo African, July 25, 1863.

(49) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 7.

(50) Lyons-Williamson Papers, Schomburg Collection, New York Public Library (NYPL).

(51) The Christian Recorder, August 22, 1863.

(52) Ira Rosenwaike, Population History of New York City (Syracuse, 1972), 73.

(53) New York Herald, July 15, 1863.

(54) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 25.

(55) New York Herald, July 15, 1863.

(56) The Anglo African, July 25, 1863.

(57) New York Tribune, July 21, 1863.

(58) The Anglo African, July 25, 1863.

(59) The Anglo African, July 25, 1863.

(60) New York Tribune, July 21, 1863.

(61) African Methodist Church, New York City, "The Doctrines and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in American, Established in the city of New York, October 25, 1820" Publisher: Christopher Rush and George Collins (New York, 1820), UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library, Elizabeth and James Abajian Collection of Afro-Americana.

(62) Freeman, 420.

(63) Records from St. Philip's Church, New York City, New York Public Library (Schomburg Center).

(64) Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874, Records of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, Record Group 101, National Archives and Record Service, Washington DC.

(65) Freedman's Savings and Trust Company (Patsey Booker).

(66) Freedman's Savings and Trust Company (Walter Wright Bacon).

(67) Freedman's Savings and Trust Company (Margaret Jane Council).

Jane E. Dabel (1)

(1) Jane E. Dabel is an Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. She is currently completing a manuscript, "A Respectable Woman: Black Women's Gender Roles in New York City, 1827-1880."
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Author:Dabel, Jane E.
Publication:Afro-Americans in New York Life and History
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Date:Jul 1, 2003
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