Tag Archives: Abolitionists

Juneteenth Celebration, Wednesday June 19: Robert Johnson’s Cambridge Connection

Robert Johnson’s signature from the Johnson Family Bible, a new Cambridge Room acquisition.

Join us to commemorate Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the former Confederate States of America, by exploring the fascinating life of Robert Johnson, fugitive slave and abolitionist, and his connection to Cambridge.

We will offer two programs on the same evening:  a genealogy workshop and a reception and talk.

Workshop:  The Robert Johnson Family Tree:  Researching an African American Abolitionist Family
We will explore the paths our genealogical research took, plot out the Robert Johnson Family tree and his connection to Cambridge, and offer tips for researching African American genealogy.

Date & Time:
6:00pm – 6:45pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Main Library, Cambridge Room

Talk and Reception:  The Robert Johnson Family Bible
Come see an important new Cambridge Room acquisition and learn about Robert Johnson, fugitive slave and abolitionist, and his family’s connection to Cambridge.  This is the first in a series of programs featuring gems from the Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Date & Time:
7:00pm – 8:00pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Main Library, Cambridge Room


Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers Now Available


Handwritten postcard from Thomas Wentworth Higginson to Etta Russell, June 1, 1897, from the Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907.

The  Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907 are now available to research. A curated selection of the papers have been digitized and made available here.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a writer, minister, colonel, abolitionist, and activist. He was born on December 23, 1823 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Louisa Storrow Higginson and Stephen Higginson Jr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson graduated from Harvard College in 1841 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1847. He then served as a preacher, first in Newburyport, where he was deemed too radical, and later at the Free Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. During this time, Higginson became increasingly active in abolitionist activity. He wrote and preached against slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War and was active in the Boston Vigilance Committee and the Underground Railroad. After supporting abolitionist settlers in Kansas following the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he provided financial support to John Brown’s raid of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. During the Civil War, Higginson led the Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907) Union’s first African-American regiment. He described his military service in the memoir Army Life in a Black Regiment.

After the Civil War, Higginson focused on writing, editing, and activism, living in Newport, Rhode Island, for about two decades before returning to Cambridge. As a writer, he published fiction, memoirs, and essays, working with publications such as the Atlantic Monthly and the Woman’s Journal. He wrote on issues such as women’s suffrage, temperance, and Reconstruction. Higginson was also an editor; he corresponded with Emily Dickinson and co-edited her poetry for publication after her death. Higginson served as a trustee of the Cambridge Public Library and was instrumental in establishing the collections of the Cambridge Room, the library’s archives and special collections. Higginson married Mary Channing in 1847. After her death in 1877, he married Mary Thacher in 1879. They had two daughters, Louisa, who died in infancy in 1880, and Margaret, born in 1881. Higginson died on May 9, 1911 in Cambridge and was buried in Cambridge Cemetery.

Collection Overview
This collection comprises letters written to and by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a manuscript of a portion of his book Cheerful Yesterdays, and pamphlets written by Higginson. The letters include discussion of Higginson’s time in England and work with the Cambridge Public Library. The manuscript contains the second chapter of Higginson’s memoir, Cheerful Yesterdays, “A Child of the College.” The pamphlets include speeches, sermons, reminiscences, and essays; topics covered include slavery and women’s suffrage.

Free Screening of Abolitionists of America Tonight at the BPL


Tonight, the Boston Public Library will host a screening of hour two of “The Abolitionists” from 7:00pm until 8:30pm. Special guests will include Executive Producer Sharon Grimberg, Director Rob Rapley, Historian Lois Brown, and Actor Richard Brooks. Please feel free to spread the word about this free event to your colleagues and to your user communities. More information and RSVP form are available at this URL: http://www.wgbh.org/support/events_abolitionists.cfm.

Abolitionist Map of America App now available!


The app for Abolitionist Map of America has just been released!

Facebook: Find our material on the new @American Experience iPhone app! We have added several pins about Cambridge on the Abolitionist Map of America. Search for “American Experience” in the iTunes store to download the Mapping History app to your iPhone today! Browse and explore historical materials and videos significant to the abolitionist movement all across America! http://ow.ly/g4Eg5

Twitter: We have partnered with @AmExperiencePBS on the Abolitionist Map of America iPhone app. Download today!   http://ow.ly/g4Eg5

Abolitionist Map of America


We have partnered with PBS’s American Experience on the Abolitionist Map of America, an interactive website that explores events, characters and locations connected to the anti-slavery movement, one of the most important civil rights crusades in American history. An extension of the three-part series The Abolitionists, premiering Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013 on PBS, the map engages communities around their local history, expanding upon the stories told in The Abolitionists and connecting them to real geographic locations. The map brings events from the past to life and integrates them into present-day America.

We have joined dozens of museums, libraries, archives and PBS member stations in populating the map with geo-tagged historical photos and documents, as well as more than 30 video clips from The Abolitionists. Unique individuals are also invited to upload their own content with the goal of creating a map that reflects the shared history of the movement and its indelible mark on local communities and the nation.

The Cambridge Room’s contribution to the map involves our connection to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cantabrigian and radical abolitionist. To view the Abolitionist Map of America, click here.