Philadelphia: Printed by Kite & Walton, 1849. 44pp. Original plain rear wrapper, stitched (front wrapper missing). Spine perished, rear wrapper soiled. Ex-Historical Society of Pennsylvania, with their ink stamp on the second leaf and five-digit number on the titlepage. Light soiling and foxing, particularly to outer leaves, otherwise quite clean. Very good. Item #WRCAM62682
An early and important study of Philadelphia's Black population, distilling the results of a census taken by the Society of Friends in 1847. The introduction, dated to "First month 1st" (i.e. March 1st) 1849, describes the following report as, "so far as it goes, a faithful picture of the condition of our people of colour--a picture which should inspire them with hope and confidence in the future, and encourage their friends to persevere in their efforts to remove the distress and degradation which prevail among a portion of them, most of which can be distinctly traced to the evil influences of slavery." This is only the second of such studies (following Bacon and Gardner's census on behalf of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1838), and tracks the rate of population increase since that publication along with occupations, livelihoods, real estate owned, education, beneficial societies, penitentiary inmates, and churches of Philadelphia's African-American community.
The 1847 survey records data for a total of 16,042 free Blacks in the city, with the most common occupation listed as "washer" for women and "labourer" for men, though with a large number of participants providing no response. The compilers also provide interesting tables comparing population growth in different regions at home and abroad (the enslaved population outpacing free African Americans by four percent), and analyze the results within their larger context, including regional and ethnic mortality rates, climate, and more. Other data provided include rents paid by Black tenants (totals and averages by neighborhood), incarceration rates (surprisingly fewer convictions for Black Philadelphians, though "their sentences for crimes of the same grade are much longer," and pardons are far less frequent), and places of worship.
A survey of the utmost importance, STATISTICAL INQUIRY was followed by another report by Bacon of the Abolition Society in 1856, and perhaps most notably by W.E.B. Dubois' THE PHILADELPHIA NEGRO in 1899. SABIN 62289. LIBRARY COMPANY, AFRO-AMERICANA 9764.