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September 13-15, 1865

Wednesday, September 13, 1865.

not well to day busy to day the festival comes off for the children vincent down about 7 o quite a number of children and adults were thy all seemed to enj

Thursday 14

oy [enjoy] them selves very much i did not go out untill evening Julia and i went to hear blind Tom i was much Pleased with the preformance excepting we had to sit up stairs wich made me furious

Friday 15

another warm day. Poor Frank Duglass died this morning or 12 o last night i went to meeting cant say it did me much good as i went

Annotation 1

Introduced to audiences as the “blind negro boy pianist,” Blind Tom, a musical savant, was approximately 16 years old in 1865 when he performed in Philadelphia. In this 1880 picture, Tom was 31 years old.


“Blind Tom,” or Thomas Wiggins, was a former slave who toured concert halls performing musical numbers he learned from memory. After emancipation, Tom continued to travel with his master, who controlled all the proceeds from Tom’s popular shows. A complicated figure, Tom inspired awe with his talent–performing two different songs on different pianos, while singing a third song–but he nonetheless frustrated critics for his deep loyalty to his former master. “The prejudice against blacks extends to every class,” an 1860 article about Philadelphia in Douglass’ Monthly explained, “and may be remarked in pleasure and in business. At theatres and concerts, lectures and churches, the negro is restricted to a remote gallery.” Emilie’s complaint serves as a reminder that racism and segregation in the city remained unchanged by the war. Emilie and Julia were unprepared to be asked to sit in a separate section of the Concert Hall, located on the corner of Chestnut and Twelfth Streets, where Emilie had attended lectures by Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Susanna Capeluto, “The Tale of ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins,” NPR, March 6, 2002, http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2002/mar/blindtom/index.htm; Ballou, Autobiography, 452-3; “Concert Hall. Tom. The Blind Negro Boy Pianist,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 11, 1865; www.librarycompany.org/mcallister/pdf/playbills.pdf; “The Colored People of Philadelphia,” Douglass’ Monthly, October 1860.

Annotation 2

Frances Douglass’ death certificate

According to her death certificate, Frances Douglass died on September 15, 1865 of phthisis pulmonalis, another name for tuberculosis. Emilie and her cohorts might have shortened Frances to “Frank,” and at 18 years old, Frances was likely a contemporary of Emilie’s. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JK78-G51 : accessed 09 May 2013), Frances Douglass, 1865.

3 Comments ↓

3 Responses to “September 13-15, 1865”

  1. March 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

    Period 5

    The language, spelling wise, has changed very much since then. I would like to find out more about who Nelly is.

  2. March 18, 2013 at 4:20 PM #

    Period 3

    Throughout all of the journal entries, their are many changes in spelling and grammar that don’t appear in our writing today. These errors made it hard to comprehend what I read mostly because of the absence of sentences.

  3. March 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

    Period 1

    First, I was wondering why her birthday was not a very good day for her; does she not like when her birthday arrives? I also saw how she misspelled many words which I believe are from lack of education, but why she kept changing the way she spelled the same words was a bit strange to me.

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