Guide to the Parker Pillsbury Diaries, 1864-1896
Parker Pillsbury (1809–1898) was an American minister, lecturer, newspaper editor, and advocate for abolition and women's rights. The collection is composed of 33 pocket diaries Parker Pillsbury kept for the years 1864 to 1896. The diaries offer a consistent, uninterrupted record of Pillsbury's life during these years, particularly his work fighting for the rights of women and African Americans and promoting Free Religion. Pillsbury records his interactions with leading social reformers of the nineteenth century, including William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Abby Kelley and Stephen S. Foster, Gerrit Smith, Wendell Phillips, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Robert Ingersoll, Charles Sumner, Henry Ward Beecher and Theodore Tilton among many others. His entries occasionally are accompanied by tipped in newspaper clippings about national events.
- Collection Number
- Parker Pillsbury diaries
- 2 Linear Feet, 33 pocket diaries
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
The collection is composed of 33 pocket diaries Parker Pillsbury kept for the years 1864 to 1896. The diaries contain a consistent, uninterrupted record of Pillsbury's life during these years.
Pillsbury wrote daily or nearly daily about the details of his life recording both the mundane and the profound. A typical entry begins with the weather and his location before providing the names of those with whom he met or correspondeded that day, events he attended, lectures he gave, or work he did. Pillsbury writes about his interactions with William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Abby Kelley and Stephen S. Foster, Gerrit Smith, Wendell Phillips, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, the Allcott family, Robert Ingersoll, Charles Sumner, Henry Ward Beecher, Theodore Tilton and many other leading social reformers of the nineteenth century. His entries are occasionally accompanied by tipped in newspaper clippings about national events.
Due to their consistency and span, the diaries provide a decades' long chronology of Pillsbury's involvement with and importance in the major social reform movements of the late nineteenth century, and in particular, the women's rights movement with which he closely associated during these years. The diaries show him to be a ceaseless traveler, moving up and down the east coast, throughout New England, and through western New York and the Midwest, as he lectured, preached, attended women's suffrage conventions, and otherwise attempted to advance the causes of equal rights for women and African Americans and Free Religion.
The diaries illustrate his close and sustained relationship with major figures in the women's rights movements. He writes of his work as joint editor with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony of the Revolution from 1867 to 1870, and his continued friendship and partnership with Anthony in the following decades. He often visited her in Rochester, they lectured together, and he served as her advisor when she was put on trial in Albany by the State Supreme Court for voting without the right to do so.
Arranged in chronological order.
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Parker Pillsbury (September 22, 1809 – July 7, 1898) was an American minister, lecturer, newspaper editor, and advocate for abolition and women's rights. He was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Pillsbury, a blacksmith and farmer, and Anna (Smith) Pillsbury. He was a descendant of William Pillsbury who came to Massachusetts circa 1640. Parker’s parents moved to Henniker, New Hampshire in 1814. He was educated in the district school and worked on farms in New Hampshire and as a wagoner in Massachusetts. From 1835 to 1838, he studied at the Gilmanton Theological Seminary, and then for a year at the more conservative Andover Theological Seminary. By the time Pillsbury left Andover he was a devout Abolitionist. He briefly held a parish position at the Congregational Church at Loudon, New Hampshire, however his Congregational license to preach was revoked in 1840 because of his use of the pulpit to denounce slavery. Though he held no regular pastorate, he continued to preach for free religious societies in Toledo, Ohio, Battle Creek, Michigan, Rochester, New York and elsewhere. On January 1, 1840, he married fellow abolitionist Sarah H. Sargent of Concord, New Hampshire.
Pillsbury was an abolitionist of the Garrisonian type, and from 1840 until the emancipation of the slaves was lecture agent for the New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and American anti-slavery societies. An admirer of John Brown, he spoke at a demonstration meeting in Rochester, New York following Brown’s execution. In 1840 and again in 1845-46 he edited the Herald of Freedom, at Concord, New Hampshire, and from January to May 1866 the National Anti-Slavery Standard, in New York City. After the Civil War he was active in efforts to procure the right of suffrage for African Americans believing that the right to vote was necessary for their protection. He was also interested in temperance, political reform, international peace, and women’s rights.
Pillsbury was one of the earliest and most devoted advocates women's rights in the nineteenth century. He severed his connection with the Standard when its managers showed themselves more favorable toward extending the right to vote to African Americans than to women. He was a long time vice-president of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association and helped draft the constitution of the American Equal Rights Association. From 1868 to 1870, he was joint editor with Elizabeth Cady Stanton of the Revolution, a radical weekly. In addition to contributions to these newspapers, he wrote the Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles (1883), a history of the abolition movement in New England.
- African Americans -- Civil rights
- Abolitionists -- United States -- Archives
- Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell)
- Beecher, Henry Ward
- Douglass, Frederick
- Free thought -- History
- Feminism -- United States -- History -- 19th century
- Foster, Abby Kelley
- Foster, Stephen S. (Stephen Symonds)
- Garrison, William Lloyd
- Humanism, Religious
- Ingersoll, Robert Green
- John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
- Mott, Lucretia
- Pillsbury, Parker
- Pillsbury, Parker
- Phillips, Wendell
- Radicals -- United States -- Archives
- Social reformers -- United States -- Archives
- Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
- Sumner, Charles
- Smith, Gerrit
- Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
- Tilton, Theodore
- Women's rights -- United States
- Women -- Suffrage -- United States
[Identification of item], Parker Pillsbury Diaries, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Parker Pillsbury Diaries were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in October 2013.
Processed by: Kat Stefko, December 2013
Accessions described in this finding aid: 2013-0173