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Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity Records, 1834-1840, 1886

Identifier: MSS 35

Scope and Content Note

The Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity Records contain mostly meeting minutes and range from 1834-1840. The constitution and initial membership list are given in the 1834 record book.


  • Creation: 1834-1840, 1886


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Historical Note

The Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity was founded January 2, 1834, as a local chapter of the American Anti-Slavery Society organized by William Lloyd Garrison. Membership included residents of Salem, Beverly, Danvers, Wenham, and Marblehead, Massachusetts. The Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity's principles were the same as the American Anti-Slavery Society:

The Constitution of the United States does not require the existence of slavery; and the principles of liberty and right on which the constitution is established, as they are set forth in the Declaration of Independence, imperatively forbid that any class of people be so deprived of liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The membership of the Anti-Slavery Society was comprised of many Salem men who were active in other social reform movements. Cyprus P. Grosvenor, president of the organization in 1834 and 1835, was pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Salem. His wife was president of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, the sister organization of the Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity. William B. Dodge, president from 1836 to 1839, ran a school in Salem for forty years and later resigned to become the master of Salem's African School. He was sent out west as a lecturer by the Anti-Slavery Society and later settled in Milburn, Illinois.

The Anti-Slavery Society met for six years in various locations, including Rev. Grosvenor's church and Dodge's school room. Activities of the Society included making collections for the American Anti-Slavery Society, holding monthly prayer concerts, organizing occasional lectures, and establishing a reading room of anti-slavery literature. During their meetings, members debated various issues relating to slavery, such as "Should abolition contribute money, which is to be given to slaves as compensation for slavers?" and "Can the slaves be justified according to the scriptures in using force to obtain their freedom?"

The Society dissolved in 1840, possibly due to a split of the American Anti-Slavery Society over the leadership role of women in the abolitionist movement.


0.25 linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The Anti-Slavery Society of Salem and Vicinity Records contain mostly meeting minutes and range from 1834-1840

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This collection is an integration of 2 volumes and 1 folder of miscellaneous manuscript material. The 1834 record book was donated by Dr. F.W. Goss in 1904. The 1834-1839 record book was a 1912 gift of Burton Payne Gray.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Michael Doll, [1980s]. Updated by Anne E. (Holmer) Deschaine, June 2011, July 2014.

Processed by: Michael Doll; Updated by: Anne E. (Holmer) Deschaine; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA