Paul Cuffe was born a free man in Massachusetts. His mother was Native American and his father was of West African Ashanti lineage. An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Cuffe gained wealth as owner of an international shipping company. Despite his success, as an African American he was viewed as a second-class citizen and denied equal rights. As a taxpayer, Paul Cuffe petitioned the Massachusetts legislature in 1780 and demanded his right to vote. Free and enslaved African Americans petitioned for freedom, equality, and justice through the courts and state legislatures. They sought to assert their rights, promote their identity as citizens of the new nation, and challenge their status as enslaved people.
Source: Nancy Bercaw, Curator, Slavery and Freedom
A petition to the court of Bristol County, Massachusetts, in Taunton written by an unidentified hand and signed by John Cuffe and Paul Cuffe. The text is handwritten in black ink on the front and back sides of the same sheet of paper. The petition is in regards to taxation by the state upon the signatories, who are of Indian descent and are arguing they are therefore not subject to such taxation.
298 page accounting ledger used by the vacation home, Shearer Cottage, to record deposits during the summer season for the years 1945 to 1956. The ledger is bound in an unadorned red and brown leather backing boards. The spine is broken with loose pages.
The guestbook from Shearer Cottage, an African American vacation home in Oak Bluffs, MA near Martha's Vineyard. It contains numerous handwritten signatures of past guests from the years 1931 to 1947. The guestbook is bound in red and brown leather backing boards. The front cover has "Shearer Cottage Oak Bluffs, Mass" written horizontally across the front inside a stylized border. The spine is broken with loose pages.
A hardcover Standard Blank Book, with the word "JOURNAL" printed across the front cover at an angle. The book's cover is a light tan color, with a simple scrolled, printed trim in grey on the front cover, back cover, and spine. At the bottom of the spine is printed "66/ J/ 500." Triangular pieces of maroon cloth are adhered to all four cover corners.
A hardcover 100-page book with a leatherized black cover. On the front cover, the title is centered and embossed in gold text: GUEST / REGISTER. There is no print on the spine or verso. The book contains handwritten registers of guests who stayed at the Shearer Cottage in Martha's Vineyard from 1963 - 1973.