Working for Higher Education: Advancing Black Women’s Rights in the 1850s

Caroline Richards Morel

Scan of newspaper clipping The Colored American

Obituary for Caroline Richards Morel. The Colored American, 22 September 1838. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc.

Caroline Richards Morel was part of Philadelphia Black elite community and a noted Underground Railroad activist.[1,2] She married Junius Morel, and the coupled moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Caroline Morel was an avid reader and writer, and she was known by some for her works “both in prose and in verse.”[3]

Caroline died on the 26th of July in 1838, leaving us with little information not directly pertinent to her husband—outside of her obituary, wherein the following statement chronicles her Underground Railroad activities: “Her door was ever open to the unhappy fugitive from oppression. Food and raiment, with friendly counsel, and means to aid them in the pursuit of Liberty, was always cheerfully given.”[4] Caroline accommodated people of color who had escaped bondage, taking them into her abode and giving them food, clothing, and even advice, which makes her an activist in no small right and a notable figure.


[1] Judith Wellman. Brooklyn’s Promised Land: The Free Black Community of Weeksville, New York. (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 59.

[2] Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. African American National Biography. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008),11.

[3] Obituary for Caroline Morel, Colored American, September 22, 1838, Accessible Archives; C. Peter Ripley, Black Abolitionist Papers, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 218-19

[4] Ibid.


Edited and revised by Samantha de Vera.