Written by
Rollin, Frances Anne, American, 1845 - 1901
Manufactured by
Taggard & Thompson, American, c. nineteenth century
Subject of
Rollin, Frances Anne, American, 1845 - 1901
Delany, Martin Robison, American, 1812 - 1885
Whipper, William J., American, 1834 - 1907
ink on paper with leather and adhesive
H x W x D (closed): 4 15/16 × 3 1/16 × 11/16 in. (12.5 × 7.8 × 1.8 cm)
Frances Rollin and her four sisters, Charlotte, (Chair of the SC Woman Suffrage Association), Katherine, Louise, and Florence were 19th century suffragettes who actively advocated for equal rights for women. During Reconstruction, they operated a successful political salon in Columbia, SC where blacks, whites, women and men discussed civil, social and political rights for all Americans.
Frances Anne Rollin was also a writer and the author of Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany which upon appearing in 1868 became the first full-length biography written by an African American. Rollin also kept a diary in 1868, making it the earliest known diary by a southern black woman.
Major Martin Delany, the highest ranking black in the military, was so impressed by the young teacher that he commissioned her to write his biography. Rollin traveled to Boston to write and to seek a publisher. Her account describes her writing experience as well as her meetings with notable abolitionists and luminaries of the Civil War era and notes Delany’s financial challenges once the Civil War ended.
Returning to South Carolina in 1868, Frances Rollin was employed by a Pennsylvania-born black attorney, William J. Whipper, who had been recently elected to the South Carolina Legislature. Rollin and Whipper married a few months later.
Rollin continued her diary during their brief courtship and first year of marriage. The diary allowed a rare glimpse into the social life of Columbia, the South Carolina capital, and recorded the anti-black, anti-Republican violence then ongoing in the state during Reconstruction.
Personal diary of Frances Anne Rollin, written during the year 1868. The content of the diary covers the publication of Rollin's book, her courtship and first year of marriage to William J. Whipper, member of the South Carolina state legislature, and life in Reconstruction-era Columbia, South Carolina. The diary is wrapped in black leather with a flap extension on the right that slips inside a strap on the body of the book. On top of the strap is the manufacture's mark in gold that is a circular shape with a starburst design on top. Underneath is the text, [DIARY / 1868]. The inside cover of the diary has many inscriptions in pencil. The text begins with the numbers, [62 / 135.] Underneath reads, [F. Rollin / 16 Blossom [illegible] / Boston / Mass]. On the right cover is a list of objects including the diary and their prices listed on the left with a total of 3.75. Another math equation below lists more objects and ends with 1.90.
The inside title page is covered in decorative floral and leaf scroll work. The title reads, [ILLUMINATED / DIARY / for / 1868.]. Underneath is an illustrated image of the sea with a mast ship. The publisher below reads, [PUBLISHED BY / TAGGARD & THOMPSON, No. 29 CORNHILL, / BOSTON.] The diary begins with a calendar, differences in time in each state and city, postage information, and eclipses. There are gaps in entries between July 13-26, October 20-21, November 19-January 1, 1869. After the diary dates is a page of [MEMORANDA.] with a list of objects bought and their prices. Following are pages devoted to [CASH ACCOUNT] by month. The back cover has an inscription of two quotes from R. Waldo Emerson, but the quotes are mostly illegible as the graphite has faded. Below the quotes are two more math equations.
Transcription Center Status
Transcription Available
Place made
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
Place used
Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina, United States, North and Central America
Documents and Published Materials
American South
Domestic life
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877
Social life and customs
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Carole Ione Lewis Family Collection
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu

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