This post was written by Julita Braxton, AHMC Cataloger.
One collection within the American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC) is composed of four birth certificates for children born to enslaved mothers, following the passage of “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” in New York in July, 1799.
This is a birth certificate for a child enslaved in New York City in the early years of the nineteenth century. “I, Mary Pell of the City of New York, widow, do certify that a certain male child, named Peter was born on the twentieth day of December, last part, of my negro woman slave, named Lilly, which child I retain according to law. New York, June 6th, 1803.” According to New York’s law of gradual abolition, Peter, being a male child born of an enslaved mother after July 1, 1799, was to be freed after 28 years of servitude.
Cataloging of the American Historical Manuscript Collection (AHMC), a group of 12,000 small and unique manuscript collections, is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, and the Pine Tree Foundation of New York.