Radio Times

The diary of Emilie Davis

January 2, 2013

Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which legally freed three million slaves. On that day, January 1st, 1863 in Philadelphia, Emilie Davis, a 21year old black woman, wrote in her pocket diary, “To day has bin a memorable day and I thank god I have been sperd [spared] to see it.” Emilie Davis’ diaries, which are at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, are one of the few firsthand accounts of the Civil War era from the perspective of a free black woman. In them she chronicles some of the most significant events of that period along with ups and downs of her own daily life. She writes about the assignation of President Lincoln, a tooth ache, her boyfriend Victor, and learning to use a sewing machine. Now Emilie Davis’ diaries have been transcribed, annotated and put online by history Professor JUDITH GIESBERG and a team of graduate students. Today we look at the life and times of Emilie Davis with JUDITH GIESBERG and Villanova history graduate students TOM FOLLY and BECCA CAPOBIANCO

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