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Page “Emilie celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation.”

January 1-3, 1863

Thursday, January 1, 1863.

To day has bin a memorable day and i thank god i have bin sperd to see it the day was religously observed all the churches were open we had quite a jubilee in the evenin i went to Joness to a Party had a very pleasant time

Friday 2

Beutiful day Nellie was up and spent Part of the day reading was here Nellie had an engagement and had to go home i stayed home a few minutes the girls were

Saturday 3

all there very Pleasent this morning buisey all day reading and sis her [here] to service i went down home to see if father had begun and was coming away when

Annotation 1

The Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863. Philadelphia’s black community celebrated Emancipation by crowding into the city’s black churches minutes before the New Year; at midnight, Philadelphians of color cheered the president’s proclamation. Dubin and Biddle, Tasting Freedom, 277-278. “Meetings and Demonstrations,” The Christian Recorder, January 10, 1863.

Annotation 2

Like most diarists, Emilie regularly reports on the weather. Rain, snow, or extreme temperatures at times prevented her daily travels, as she travelled on foot to work, school, and church.

Annotation 3

Nellie or Nel appears often in the diary. It is unclear to whom Emilie referred, but the annotation on February 20, 1863 provides a likely possibility.

Annotation 4

Emilie refers to a “reading” and “redding” in other entries; this is likely the same person.

Annotation 5

In 1860, Emilie Davis was twenty-one years old and living in the home of her uncle, Elijah Davis (EJ). Emilie’s occupation is listed as “servant” in the census, suggesting that her frequent references to sewing in the diary were related to her work as a domestic servant.

Also resident in the home was Elijah’s wife Sarah Davis (twenty-eight years old in 1863) and the couple’s son, Elwood (four years old), Elizabeth Davis (nineteen years old) and Thomas Davis (fifteen years old). By 1863, Emilie appears to be living on her own. At times, she lives with employers on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 7, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1157; Page: 58; Image: 62; Family History Library Film: 805157.

Annotation 6

Census records suggest that Emilie Davis’ father is Isaac Davis, sixty-three in 1863, was living with Ann (thirty-seven years old), Levi (forty-four years old), and Levi, Jr. (fourteen years old) Frever — perhaps Isaac’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandson – in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Year: 1860; Census Place: Harrisburg Ward 4, Dauphin, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1104; Page: 1104; Image: 501; Family History Library Film: 805104.


13 Responses to “January 1-3, 1863”

  1. January 1, 2013 at 12:29 AM #

    Today HAS been a memorable day!

    • March 2, 2017 at 11:56 AM #

      she wrote like that because it was only a pocket diary and they were meant for herself.

  2. January 2, 2013 at 7:27 AM #

    For those that are interested in the transcriptions of the Emilie Davis Diaries – you might also be interested in the upcoming book about her life, “Emilie Francis Davis, Her Life, In Her Own Words,” written by Dr. Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead due out this summer by the University of South Carolina Press.

  3. January 20, 2013 at 11:56 AM #

    How does a 24 year old black woman, living in 1863, learn to read and write?

    Do you have any subsequent information on whom Nellie was?

    • February 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM #

      Not yet! But we are still looking.

  4. February 19, 2013 at 2:33 AM #

    Friday 2 and Saturday 3
    The word for the empty brackets seems to be “reading”

    Friday 2 “was here Nellie had an appointment”
    That seems to be: (I) was here. Nellie had an appointment

    Saturday 3 “and sis her (here) to service i went home to see if father”
    That seems to be: and sis wen(t) her to service. (meaning Church service) I went home to see if father

    • February 19, 2013 at 10:08 AM #

      Thank you! Every set of eyes on the page helps.

  5. March 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM #

    I think that Emilie’s diary entries are a very important point ofview during the Civil war, and are important to read for an education on that time period.

  6. March 18, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

    thanks to the greatness of our churches and the opening of them “to day has been a memorable day.”

  7. March 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM #

    This is random, but I wanted to note that the About description that appears on every page calls these her “dairies” instead of her diaries.

  8. March 12, 2014 at 5:41 PM #

    Writing was done by the way a word sounded. See story of Jane Franklin.
    There were some educated Black people, but during the war it was against
    the law to teach a person of color to read or write.
    Source for this information is from reading extensively the times of that

  9. March 13, 2014 at 5:45 PM #

    “FRIDAY 2
    Beutiful day Nellie was up and spent Part of the day […] was here
    Nellie had an engagement and had to go home i stayed home a few minutes the girls were
    all there ”

    spent part of the day reading, was here. …had to go home. I stayed home a few minutes; the girls were all there [?here].

    Notice that she finishes here sentence even if it runs into the space set aside for the next day. Day 3 begins with “Pleasant this morning”


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