Mary White, Diary Entries on Antislavery Activities

Journal Entry

Background Notes

Mary Avery White of Boylston, Massachusetts was a wife, mother and grandmother who lived in a small rural community. She also was a committed abolitionist, who organized a local female antislavery society, attended lectures and meetings, circulated petitions with her daughters Mary and Caroline, organized concerts of prayer and raised money for the cause, sewing on quilts for sale at Anti−Slavery Fairs held in Worcester, Massachusetts. Mrs. White opened her home to abolitionist lecturers including African−Americans. These excerpts from her diary describe her antislavery activities between 1836 and 1844—the kind of work that kept the antislavery cause viable. She did not herself write or speak in public, but she enthusiastically attended the Grimké sisters’ lecture in Worcester and was very pleased to meet them the next day. She attended lectures by Charles Remond, the first African American antislavery lecturer. Abigail Kelley, a Massachusetts antislavery organizer and lecturer, visited her home. Mary White was fortunate because her activism was supported by her family and her church. Her husband Aaron (“Mr. White” in the diary), her daughters and her sons, Francis and William, were supporters of the cause, as was Reverend William Sanford, the minister of the Congregational church in Boylston.

Transcription of Primary Source

1836
Tues [Mar] 8
…Antislavery meeting this evening
Mon [Apr] 25 …a concert of prayer* for our rulers and for the emancipation of the slaves
Sab* [Aug] 28 …an antislavery concert* at the Vestry Revd Mr Asahel [Bigelow] took the Lead of the Meeting
Sab [Oct] 30 …Antislavery meeting in the evening…
Sab [Nov] 27 …Antislavery concert this evening…
Fri [Dec] 23 …Attended an Antislavery Meeting at the Vestry. Mr Amos Dresser addressed the meeting & gave an account of his suffering for the cause of Abolition Mr Stanton delivered a lecture on the subject of slavery May the Lord God add his blessing to the efforts that are making to Abolish slavery…

1837
Fri [Jan] 13
….Mr Stanton delivered an antislavery lecture in the afternoon & one in the evening . . . may the Labors of this agent be blest of the Lord to bring about the emancipation of the poor negro
Mon [Jan] 30 …I attended an antislavery concert may the Lord grant a blessing on the efforts made to abolish Slavery
Sab [Apr] 23 …Antislavery lecture at the town Hall by Rev Mr St. Clair…
Sab [May] 21 …an antislavery lecture delivered at the town Hall by Mr St Clair of West Boylston may the Lord soon grant deliverance to the poor Slaves
Sat [June] 10 …we had a female antislavery society formed at the town hall. Rev. Mr Smith closed the meeting…
Sat [June] 24 …Antislavery meeting of Females at the town Hall Mr Temple made a prayer Revd Mr St. Clair delivered an address a pertinent one on the subject of Slavery may we be animated to do what we can for the deliverance of the poor Slave
Sab [June] 25 …a third service Antislavery concert…
Fri [June] 30 …Mary took a circuit round the Neighbourhood with petition for the Abolition of Slavery in the district of Columbia & a remonstrance against the annexation of Texas to the United States as a Slaveholding territory may the Lord soon grant deliverance to those who are in bonds
Sat [July] 8 …Female Antislavery society met this afternoon Caroline attended
Fri [July] 14 Very pleasant and warm Mary went & carried an antislavery petition to Miss Lucy Goodenow to circulate for subscribers…
Wed [Aug] 23 …Antislavery society met at Mr Strattons…
Sat [Sept] 9 …a Mr Fairbanks from Providence an agent for the Antislavery cause drank tea then a meeting at the Vestry the evening
Wed [Sept] 20 …Antislavery meeting this afternoon
Tues [Sept] 26 …an antislavery lecture delivered by Mr Philemon Rand at the town hall.
Wed [Sept] 27 …Mr White went with Mrs Sanford & Miss Smith to Worcester Antislavery meeting…
Mon [Oct] 2 …Attended in the evening Lectures by the Miss Grimkes on Slavery very interesting lectures may the Lord direct them in all they do…
Tues [Oct] 3 …I went to Mr Sanfords & had the pleasure of seeing the Miss Grimkes we had a meeting of a few females for prayer this afternoon a meeting for inquiries & for prayer at the meeting house…
Wed [Oct] 18 …Mary attended Antislavery meeting this afternoon.
Nov. Wed. [1] …I attended Antislavery meeting this afternoon

1838
Tues [Feb] 6
…Antislavery agent called here this afternoon…
Mon [Feb] 12 …Mr Allens Daughters called & left Antislavery reports by Mr Allen.
Wed [Apr] 25 …I attended a meeting of the Antislavery society at Mr Sanfords…
Wed Aug 1st …Mary attended the Antislavery meeting…
Fri [Aug] 3 …Mary went with Charles to hear an Antislavery Lecture at West Boylston by Mr Stanton…
Wed [Aug] 29 …At night I attended Antislavery meeting…
Tues [Oct] 2 …a Mr Root delivered an Antislavery address at the Vestry this evening…
Wed [Oct] 10 …Mr Cottons Daughters & Miss Olive How met here this afternoon to work for the antislavery society…
Tues [Oct] 16 …called at Mr Tiltons Mrs Norcross Sawyers Mrs Richs and Mrs White’s [sister−in−law] got some signatures for the Antislavery petitions…
Wed [Dec] 26 …I received a letter from the Hon Levi Lincoln* it informed us of the neglect that our petition was treated with in Congress

1839
Mon [Feb] 11
…an animated Lecture on Slavery by the Rev. Mr Martyn in the meeting house…
Fri [Feb] 15 …Mr Martyn went to West Boylston to deliver an Antislavery Lecture…
Sat [May] 18 …Mary attended the Antislavery Meeting at the hall…
Sat June 1 …Sophia Cotton spent the afternoon here at work for the antislavery society…
Sat [June] 15 …Mary attended the antislavery meeting Miss Sarah Smith attended…
Wed [July] 17 …The girls attended Antislavery meeting…
Wed [July] 31 …I attended Antislavery sewing circle…
Wed [Aug] 14 …Caroline attended Antislavery sewing circle…
Sab Sept 1 …I went to meeting Mr Grant formerly a Missionary among the Foolahs in South Africa [preached] monthly concert at night Mr Grant gave us an interesting account of the Foolahs.
Thu [Oct] 3 …Caroline went on foot with Sophia Cotton to West Boylston to attend an antislavery meeting William went with the chaise* at night expecting to hear Mr Loyd Garrison Lecture…
Fri [Oct] 4 …Mr Foster and Mr Pettibone called here this forenoon & Mr Pettibone Lectured at the hall in the evening ...I attended the lecture in the evening Caroline & myself assisted in getting the bed quilt at the Hall for the Antislavery cause
Wed [Oct] 16 …I attended antislavery meeting at the Hall Voted to send the avails of our labor for the Society to the Anti [slavery] Fair* Mr Torrey delivered a lecture for the Slave at the meeting house in the evening
Thu [Oct] 17 …Davis came here at night Mr Torrey Lecturing before the ladies this afternoon another lecture this evening
Sat [Oct] 26 …Mrs Cotton called here & got some worsted* socks for the antislavery cause
Mon [Oct] 28 …Caroline attended Antislavery meeting at the Vestry
Tues [Nov] 5 …I called at Mr Duntons to get Mrs Duntons to sign our petition to send to congress & to our general court*…
Tues [Nov] 12 …Mr Ball called here in the evening & Mr Sanford & his wife spent the evening here & discussed the merits of Mr Garrisons paper
Mon [Nov] 25 …Caroline & Lucy attended the antislavery Concert Mr Sanford Smith there & made an address may the Lord soon prepare the way for their deliverance
Tues [Nov] 26 …Francis went to Mr Flagg to carry Antislavery petitions to be sent to Worcester for Mr Lincoln to carry to Congress…

1840
Mon [Jan] 27
…I attended in the evening a concert of prayer for the Slave
Wed [Feb] 5 …Antislavery & Temperance meeting for Choice of officers…
Thur [Mar] 12 …Antislavery society met at the Hall
Fri [Mar] 13 …I went to Worcester this forenoon . . . & attended Antislavery lecture by Mr Stanton at Brindley hall.
Mon [Mar] 16 …Mr Sanford called a meeting for the cause of the Slave to be held at the vestry this evening.
Tues [Apr] 7 …I attended an antislavery Lecture at the Hall Revd Mr Lincoln of Gardner Lectured in the afternoon & evening our antislavery sewing circle chose officers after Lecture
Wed [Apr] 22 …I attended Antislavery Meeting at Capt. Abbots.
Wed [May] 6 …Antislavery sewing circle met here this afternoon…
Wed [May] 20 …I attended Antislavery meeting this afternoon at the hall…
Wed [June] 17 …Mrs Hastings called here this afternoon & attended the Antislavery sewing circle with me…
Tues [June] 30 …Mrs Whitney & Mrs Lawyer Davenport & a daughter of Mrs Whitney’s and Maria & Harriet Davenport visited us this afternoon had a very pleasant interview the subjects conversed upon [were] the subject of Slavery on the influence of peace societies & on the prevelence of revivals of religion
Wed July 1 …I attended an antislavery meeting at the Hall
Wed [July] 15 …attended the antislavery sewing circle this afternoon…
Wed [Aug] 12 …I attended Antislavery meeting at the Hall…
Wed [Sept] 9 …I attended Antislavery meeting at the hall
Wed [Sept] 23 …attended Antislavery meeting this afternoon
Tues [Oct] 6 …I attended Antislavery Fair & a meeting of the convention [held in Worcester, Mass.] addressed by Revd Mr Cummins of Salem & Mr Lincoln of Gardner Mr Garrison, Mr Rogers & a Mr Johnson & a Mr Dennison & several others
Wed [Oct] 7 I attended the convention in the forenoon & went to the antislavery Fair...
Fri [Nov] 13 …I called at Mr Sanfords with antislavery petitions…
Mon [Nov] 16 …I called at Mr Cottons & at Mrs Whites with petitions for the amelioration of the condition of the Slave...
Mon., Nov. 30 …Antislavery concert Mrs Houghton & Louisa Brigham spent the afternoon here
Wed [Dec] 9 …I went in the afternoon with Antislavery petitions to Mr Bennets Mr Duntons Mr Hoopers & Mr Strattons & Mr Cottons
Tues [Dec] 15 …Antislavery meeting at the Hall…

1841
Thurs [Jan] 21
…Miss Abby Kelly called here with Miss Cotton soliciting funds for the antislavery Standard*…
Mon [Jan] 25 …antislavery meeting at the Hall…Mary & Caroline went to the Antislavery Meeting
Tues [Apr] 27 …I attended a meeting of the friends of the Slave a meeting at the Vestry Harriet Sawyer went with Caroline to the meeting
Wed [May] 5 …I attended the Antislavery meeting society reorganized
Sab [May] 30 …I went to meeting in the forenoon & the third service Attended a prayer meeting in the morning a Mr Tappan of Cambridgeport preached from Psal 49 ch 8 v In Pet 3 c 18 third sermon Matt 22 c 12 v three very interesting discourses…
Wed [July] 7 …I attended the Antislavery meeting…
Wed [Aug] 4 …I attended Antislavery Meeting this afternoon 13 ladies present may the Lord soon deliver this land from Slavery
Wed [Aug] 25 …Caroline walked down to the mills tonight to carry letters & attended antislavery meeting…
Wed [Sept] 8 …I went to Mr Cottons expecting to attend the Antislavery Meeting…
Wed [Sept] 22 …I attended the antislavery meeting at the hall
Nov 1 …I called in to See Mr Seth White & carried Antislavery petitions
Wed [Nov] 3 …I attended Antislavery Meeting at Mr Cottons
Wed [Nov 17] …Antislavery meeting here…
Sab [Nov] 28 …Antislavery concert in evening

1842
Sab [Jan] 23
…Antislavery concert in the evening may the Lord pour out His spirit upon each of our Souls & quicken us to duty
Sab [Jan] 30 …Antislavery meeting in the evening
Sab [Feb] 27 …Antislavery concert in the evening
Wed [Apr] 13 …I attended an antislavery lecture in the evening by Mr Bradburn of Nantucket an interesting Lecture may the Lord direct the efforts to wipe the foul Stain of Slavery from our National Escutchion*
Thurs [Apr] 14 …Mr Lincoln of Hingham Antislavery agent Called here this forenoon…
Wed [Apr] 20 …Antislavery meeting at the Town Hall…
Sab [Apr] 24 …Antislavery concert…
Wed [May] 11 …attended an Antislavery meeting…
Fri [June] 10 …Elizabeth went with me to Mr Howlands & Carpenters & Harriet Howland there I heard an address by Charle Remond a black man on the subject of American Slavery may the Lord soon deliver us from this sin
Sat [June] 11 …I attended a meeting of Mr Remond…
Sab [June] 12 …I attended Antislavery Lecture by Charles L Remond at Worcester
Sab [June] 26 …Antislavery concert…
Wed [July] 6 …I went to the town Hall to attend the Antislavery sewing circle no person but Miss Sally M Cotton
Wed [July] 20 …the girls attended Antislavery meeting
Sab [Sept] 25 …Antislavery concert at 5 oclock…
Wed [Sept] 28 …I went to Antislavery meeting at the Hall Mrs Whitney of Milford at the Meeting…
Sab [Nov] 27 …Antislavery concert an inquiry meeting at Mr Sanfords
Fri [Dec] 9 …Some antislavery resolutions read to the Church [none] of them voted for…
Thurs [Dec] 15 …Capt Abbot brought some Antislavery petitions to sign one for our State Legislature & the other for Congress

1843
Fri [Feb] 10
…Mr Sanford made an interesting address on the subject of Slavery some Antislavery resolutions passed by the Church
Thurs [Apr] 6 Annual Fast* …Mr Davis delivered an Antislavery discourse the text from Isai 60 12 V may this nation be delivered from the sin of Slavery May we be indeed humbled under a sense of our manifold transgressions…
Sab [May] 28 …Antislavery concert at the Vestry…
Sab [June] 25 …Antislavery concert at night William had the direction of the meeting…
Sab [Aug] 27 …Antislavery concert…
Mon [Oct] 9 …Mr Blanchard expecting to deliver an antislavery Lecture at Westboro this evening…
Wed [Oct] 11 …I attended an Antislavery meeting at Mr Cottons a Miss Marcy there Mrs Andrews and Mary How there…
Thurs [Oct] 26 …Caroline prepared...box of Clothing to be packed to send to Canada for the relief of runaway Slaves…
Fri [Oct] 27 …I called at Mr. Maynards & carried a letter to be put into our Box of Clothing for the fugitive Slaves Dea[con] Bush carried the box to West Boylston in order to have it send down with theirs but found their box gone & so brought the box back…
Sab [Oct] 29 …Antislavery concert at the vestry
Wed [Nov] 17 …Antislavery meeting [in] the afternoon & evening a Mr Brown & a black man with him by the name [of] Washington…
Sat [Nov] 18 …Mr Brown and Mr Washington a colored man lodged here & went from here this morning…

1844
Sab [Jan] 28
…a Third service Antislavery concert it was a prayer meeting for the Church!
Mon [Feb] 12 …a fugitive from slavery delivered a lecture on slavery at the Hall in color white
Tues [Apr] 2 …attended a meeting at the hall heard a colored man plead for the poor colored people in Canada

WHITE FAMILY, BOYLSTON, MASS.
Husband: Aaron b. 1771
Wife: Mary b. 9/12/1778
Married: 1/4/1798 in Holden, Mass.

Children:
Aaron b.10/8/1798
Joseph Avery b. 5/5/1801
Thomas b. 2/9/1804
Isaac Davis b. 3/20/1806
Elizabeth b. 9/27/1808
William James b. 3/11/1811
Mary Avery b. 12/4/1813
Caroline b. 4/8/1816
Samuel Charles b. 4/27/1820
Francis b.4/19/1824

Glossary

  • Annual Fastday − declared by the state governor for public prayer and fasting
  • antislavery concert − prayer service where all pray together, in concert, for a cause
  • Antislavery Fair − sale of items to raise money
  • Antislavery Standard − abolitionist newspaper
  • chaise − a light two wheeled carriage usually drawn by one horse, used for traveling not farm work or hauling
  • concert of prayer − prayer service where all pray together, in concert, for a cause
  • Escutchion − escutcheon: the shield on which a coat of arms is represented; in this case it is used metaphorically for national reputation
  • general court − Massachusetts State Legislature
  • Hon. Levi Lincoln − of Worcester, Mass. served as Governor of Massachusetts between 1825 and 1834 and as Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives 1834 through 1841
  • Sab. − abbreviation for Sabbath; Sunday
  • worsted − a smooth compact yarn spun using long wool fibers

Curator Notes

Type:

Exact Title: Diary of Mary White, Boylston, Mass.
Periodical:
Volume: Vol. 1
Page(s): Selected entries

Year: 18361844
Probable Date:

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Catalog Number: Old Sturbridge Village