“Boarding and Lodging for Genteel Persons of Color.” The Liberator, 14 April 1835. From Gale. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. ©2008 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc.

Amelia Shad ran a boarding house located a block away from where the 1830s Colored Conventions took place. Despite the fact that she shares the name of the famous Shadds, there are no records that suggest she is related to them. Widowed, Amelia Shad indicates in ads that she is the sole proprietor of her boarding house. Erica Armstrong Dunbar writes,“it was difficult for young Black women to obtain work, but it proved almost impossible for elderly women.”1

It was not uncommon for widows to take in lodgers and boarders. In 1837, Charles Perret, a 60-year-old dyer, lived in Shad’s house.2 For aging men like Perret who did not have a stable home, boarding houses were crucial to their survival. Thus Shad and her lodgers mutually benefited from one another.

  1. Erica Armstrong Dunbar. A Fragile Freedom: Society and the Sexes in the Modern World. (New Haven: Yale UP, 2008), 38.
  2. M’Elroy’s Philadelphia Directory, 1837. (Philadelphia: A. M’Elroy, 1837), 173.