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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 234

Papers of Ann Maria Davison, 1814-1866 (inclusive), 1847-1860 (bulk)


Diaries, notes, notebook, etc., of Ann Maria Davison, a widow living on a plantation in Louisiana who wrote on the evils of slavery.


  • Creation: 1814-1866
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1847-1860

Language of Materials

Materials in English.


Access. Originals closed; use digital images.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ann Maria Davison is held by John M. Ferry and his wife, Elizabeth G. Ferry. Upon their deaths, copyright transfers to their daughter, Dana Ferry. Upon Dana Ferry's death, copyright transfers to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.42 linear feet (1 file box)

Six volumes and one folder of diary entries document the importance of religion in her life and her opposition to the system of slavery, as well as her travels and daily activities. Davison wrote of well-known personalities and events of the slavery controversy: for example, of hearing Frederick Douglass speak, of reading Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dred, and of the 1856 presidential election. She also observed slave life closely and visited free blacks in Philadelphia and in Princeton, New Jersey. She wrote diary entries in New Orleans, while traveling to and from the east coast, and in cities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.

In 1856 (see 4v., 3/2/1856) she apparently decided to write an antislavery manuscript, possibly for publication; 16 folders of this incomplete manuscript are included. Parts of the manuscript were taken directly from diaries in this collection, others from diaries not included here, and others may have been newly written rather than taken from diaries. Davison's religious motivation for opposing slavery is reflected in her diaries and the manuscript; she was especially devoted to her Sunday school for slaves. She actively participated in tract and Bible societies, and the importance of religion in her life is further documented by a volume, included here, of notes on the Bible.

Manuscripts found in folders 10-27 were originally sewn together and are in order as found.


Ann Maria Davison was born on April 2, 1783, probably in New Jersey. She apparently lived in New Jersey for several years and then in New Orleans for at least forty years. She frequently visited her daughter, Mattie Hennen (Ann Maria Davison Hennen), and son-in-law, Alfred, on their plantation outside New Orleans and also traveled frequently to the east coast. Davison lived in the North during the Civil War and died in New Orleans in 1871.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 75-174, 80-M106, 2015-M31

The papers of Ann Maria Davison were given to the Schlesinger Library in June 1975 and May 1980 by John Ferry, and in March 2015 by Isabel Smith Margulies.


Oversize items removed (both are available at the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts):

  1. New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, January 16, 1849.
  2. The Daily Picayune, January 16, 1849.

Processing Information

Processed: October 1976; folder #30 was added in June 2012, and #31v was added in March 2015, and were not included in the microfilm.

By: Linda J. Henry

Davison, Ann Maria, 1783-1871. Papers of Ann Maria Davison, 1814-1866 (inclusive), 1847-1860 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processed under NEH Grant Number RC 24669-76-987.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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