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Rawson/Wilson Anti-Slavery Papers

Date range: c.1820–1910.

Mary Anne Rawson, née Read (1801–87), of Wincobank Hall, Sheffield, was a prominent member of the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society, which was founded in 1825 as the Auxiliary Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves.

In 1827 the Sheffield society was the first anti-slavery organization in Britain to call for the immediate emancipation of slaves. Along with many other anti-slavery societies, the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society was disbanded on 8 October 1833, after the passing of the Abolition of Slavery Act. However, Mary Anne Rawson continued to campaign against slavery outside the British Empire, and was on the committee of the Sheffield Ladies’ Association for the Universal Abolition of Slavery, founded in 1837.

The collection comprises:

  • original manuscripts of verse and prose contributions to the powerful anti-slavery anthology compiled by Mary Anne Rawson, The Bow in the Cloud; or, The Negro’s Memorial (1834)
  • correspondence between Rawson and contributors to The Bow in the Cloud and non-contributors, including Wordsworth, Southey and Macaulay
  • the minute book of the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society, with letters, notes, and drafts of minutes
  • correspondence and papers of Rawson’s nephew and fellow anti-slavery campaigner, Henry Joseph Wilson (1833–1914), Liberal MP for Sheffield
  • a transcript of miscellaneous poems concerning slavery. The collection constitutes an important source for the history of nineteenth-century anti-slavery campaigns, especially of female abolitionist movements in England

See also: the H.J. Wilson Anti-Slavery Pamphlet Collection

Finding aids

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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