Reading the Convention Minutes:

Page 3 of the 1866 Convention in Kentucky. Courtesy of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image. The University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Oftentimes, the minutes are not very specific. This is likely because the delegates intended the minutes to be viewed by people living during their time, who would be able to understand gaps. For example, the  minutes of the 1866 Kentucky Convention note that the meetings took place at the “Ladies Hall,” with no further explanation. Minutes notes like require creative means to find out what exactly was being referred to. 

Use the slider below to explore some of the places where conventions that mention singing took place. 

Cayuga County Court House

The 1848 State Convention in Cleveland, Ohio took place at “the Court House,” today called the Cayuga County Court House. The minutes mention that, “a Liberty Song” was sung here. 

The Temple Street Church

The 1849 State Convention in New Haven, Connecticut took place at the Temple Street Church, which is no longer standing. The minutes show that, a  “hymn of solemn praise to God,” and “the Doxology” were sung during this convention. 

The Bethel AME Church in Indianapolis

The 1850 State Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana took place at the Bethel AME Church. The minutes not that several anti-slavery songs were sung during this convention. 

Corinthian Hall in Rochester New York

The 1853 National Convention in Rochester, NY took place at Corinthian Hall. The performance of a song was mentioned in the minutes. 

New Bedford, MA City Hall

The 1858 State Convention in Connecticut took place in New Bedford’s City Call. During this convention, a choir sang  ‘Come join the Friends of Liberty,’ also, a hymn was sung during this convention.  

Burns United Methodist Church

The 1868 State Convention in Des Moines, Iowa, took place at the Burns United Methodist Church. During this convention, all the participants sung the hymn “Blow Ye Trumpet, Blow!”


[1] Epstein, Dena J. Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977. Print. (p. 192).