Bakeries: Feeding Delegates and Fostering Charity in the Community

Old houses, on the north side of Arch St.

Frederick de Bourg. "Old houses on the north side of Arch. St." ca 1859. Courtesy of Frederick de Bourg Print Collection, Library Company of Philadelphia

Click the names in the right-hand menu to learn more about the lives of bakers in Philadelphia in the 1830s.

Many African Americans moved to Philadelphia from slave-holding states as close as Delaware to states in the deep south. Former cooks and domestic workers capitalized on their culinary skills to get jobs in bakeries and restaurants. Still, African American bakery owners were mostly members of the Black elite. In spite of the privileges that come with being a member of such group, they, too, lived with the worry of being accused of being fugitives and under threats of anti-Black mob outbreaks, violence, and disenfranchisement. 

For further reading on African-American food culture, click here