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African American Women's Economic Power and the 1830s Colored Conventions in Philadelphia

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This exhibit highlights the contributions of local boarding house hosts and hostesses who provided comfortable spaces for delegates of the 1830s conventions and helped turn their community into a rich hub for activism. It also acknowledges the obscured efforts of women whose livelihoods aided in fostering black economic mobility—one of the aims of the conventions. 

Between 1830 and 1835, five conventions were held in the Philadelphia neighborhood now known as Washington Square West. The role of businesses that supported and promoted the Colored Conventions are often ignored. As we recover and make Colored Conventions materials accessible, we must make sure that we do not disregard the lives of regular individuals who made these conventions and other political meetings possible. The first five Philadelphia conventions tackled and debated collective uplift. Although women are largely unacknowledged in the conventional reading of the minutes, as this exhibit shows, women's work was crucial in securing the future delegates worked so hard to achieve. 

 

Credits:

Curator: Samantha deVera.

Edited by P. Gabrielle Foreman and Sarah Patterson.

Further Acknowledgements: Denise Burgher for her suggestions and improvements and Caleb Trotter for technical assistance. 

Cover: Rendered using Canva.com and photographs from Library Company of Philadelphia's Print and Photograph Collection.

The Colored Conventions Project proudly partners with national and local teaching partners and student contributors to bring the buried history of nineteenth-century Black political organizing to digital life.

Special thanks to Gale®, part of Cengage Learning, and Accessible Archives, for granting permission to host digital images of newspapers in its databases.