Acquisition: The records of the East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society were donated by Alfred C. Potter to the Cambridge Historical Society on October 17, 1918, according to a Cambridge Historical Society stamp on the inside cover.
Access: There are no restrictions on items in this collection.
Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.
Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society holds copyright on the materials in the collection.
Little is known about the East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society. It is likely that they were a part of an East Cambridge church of the period. The forming precepts and constitution of the society are dated May 18th, 1837. The preamble states that two million humans were held as slaves, and the society’s objective was to “use all means sanctioned by law, humanity and religion to effect the abolition of Slavery in the United States, to improve the condition and elevate the character of our coloured [sic] population and to correct public opinion in relation to their situation and rights.”
The East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society submitted a list of its members to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and sent a three-person delegation to the New England Anti-Slavery Convention in 1837. Thus they corresponded with, and were probably known by, other abolitionist groups in the region.
Since there is no indication that the society officially disbanded, it is likely that they continued to operate after 1840 and that additional records have either been destroyed or remain unidentified.
The East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society records consist of one book with twelve pages of the club’s meeting minutes from 1837 to 1840. The remaining pages of the book are stained with the residue of dried flowers, and the inside of the back cover is inscribed (upside down) with the later writing of Mabel F. Hastings of South Acton, Massachusetts. Her name is not included in a list of the members of the East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society. In addition to the original East Cambridge Anti-Slavery record book, there are two typescripts (Folder 2).
Although the entries primarily contain administrative detail, there is an impassionate entry dated May 7, 1839. The secretary notes that the attendees of the meeting “seemed determined that Society should no longer sleep, and that the Citizens of this place should no longer be dead, if Truth, and activity on our part could make them alive to the cause of human freedom…”
While the record book clearly documents the founding of the East Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society in 1837, there is no indication that they officially disbanded after the last entry. Therefore it is likely that there are missing records for subsequent years, possibly held by some East Cambridge church.
Abolitionists – United States
Cambridge (Mass.) – Social life and customs
Cambridge (Mass.) – Societies etc.
Slavery – United States
1|1|Record book, 1837-1840
1|2|Two typescripts of record book