Women and Abolition


This packet contains materials related to women and the abolition in the 1830s-1850s.  These materials can support classes and research in religion, women and gender studies, and  African-American studies. Potential pedagogical goals from using these materials might include examining  the ways enslaved or free peoples voices are represented or not, exploring, analyzing, and putting materials in conversation, comparing accounts of similar time periods and topics by different authors, and examining intersectionality and patronization within the records.

Packet contents:

  • List of primary sources
  • Guiding questions for engaging with the materials
  • Resources which provide background on this topic:
    • Cross-Hansen, Jody L. “Hicksite and orthodox abolitionists.” In The contribution of Quaker women to the political struggle for abolition, women’s rights, and peace: from the Hicksite Schism to the American Friends Service Committee. Lewiston : The Edwin Mellen Press, 2015.
    • Lerner, Gerda. The Grimké sisters from South Carolina pioneers for women’s rights and abolition. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
    • Quakers & Slavery Exhibition.

Quaker & Special Collections holds a wide variety of materials on this topic beyond those listed here. For more information consult our research guide on the topic or contact Special Collections.

Primary Sources

Sarah Moore Grimké. Letters to Joseph Tallcot. 1836-1837. HC-MC-1015
[Digitized letter 1836-10-14]       
[Digitized letter 1837-10-25]
[Digitized letter 2 1837-10-25]

John Greenleaf Whittier. Letter to Angelina and Sarah Moore Grimké on the importance of abolition in relation to the women’s rights movement. 1837. HC-MC-851
[Digitized version]

Julia Wilbur. Diaries. 1844-1895. HC-MC-1158
Julia A. Wilbur was an active anti-slavery and women’s rights proponent during the 19th century.
[Digitized version]
[Digitized journal briefs]

The Female Anti-Slavery Sewing Society Minutes. 1852-1854. HC-MC-975-09-010
“We organise ourselves a Sewing Society, for the purpose of relieving the sufferings of that class of our countrymen, who have fled from the oppression which they endured under the unjust laws of our country, and found a refuge in Canada.
[Digitized version]

Marguerite DeAngeli. Thee, Hannah! New York: DoubleDay, 1940.
[Digitized version]

Guiding Questions

  • Who created these items? For what purpose?
  • How does these items contribute to your understanding of this subject?
  • What do you find interesting about these items?
  • What additional contextual information would you need to understand these documents? Where might you might find this information, and why might you choose a particular source over another?
  • Describe the intended audience for this material? How do you know this?