Facebook Twitter

Donate to BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

3 + 7 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help in the Classroom

Female Anti-Slavery Society, Salem, Massachusetts (1832-1866)

In February 1832, a group of “females of color” in Salem, Massachusetts organized the first women’s antislavery society in the United States.  Like most free black antislavery societies, the Salem organization addressed a variety of issues important to free blacks in addition to the campaign against slavery.  It supported secular and Sabbath schools for free blacks, assisted newly freed or runaway slaves, and opposed racial segregation and discrimination in the northern free states.  Two years after its founding, the Society expanded its membership to include white women and officially re-organized as the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society.

The Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society (SFASS) was similar in some ways to other female anti-slavery organizations.  It raised money to support abolitionist publications such as The Liberator by organizing annual bazaars that featured the contributions of local free blacks and organized lecture series.  The society’s support for The Liberator underscored its Garrisonian politics that advocated the immediate end of slavery as well as Garrison’s support of the expanded role of women in the movement.  

Like other abolitionist women, its participants were often involved in a host of other reform activities. For example, the Society’s vice-president, Clarissa C. Lawrence, also served as president of the Colored Female Religious and Moral Reform Society of Salem, and Sarah Parker Remond was a prominent abolitionist lecturer who would eventually pursue a career in medicine. Remond’s family was among the black elite in Salem and active participants in the abolitionist movement.  

Many of the members, however, were self-supporting women.  The working-class rank and file of the Society shaped the scope of its priorities and activities. In addition to its overt antislavery work, for example, the SFASS established a sewing school for young black women and girls and raised funds to help sustain a local black church.  The Society disbanded in January 1866 but a number of former members participated in the activities of the Freedman’s Bureau in the South.

July Roy Jeffrey, The Great Silent Army of Abolitionism: Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1998) and Shirley J. Yee, Black Women Abolitionists: A Study in Activism, 1828-1860 (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1992), and The Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.


University of Washington, Seattle

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - v3.0 NDCHost - California | | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.