One of the most important feminist activists of the nineteenth century, Mary Grew (1813-1896) was involved in numerous campaigns during her lifetime. She helped to initiate the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, which met annually between 1837 and 1839. The first national political assembly organized by and for women, it set the stage for the more famous Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Grew later became a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, which culminated in 1920 with the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution. Like other feminists of her generation, Grew viewed her work in an international context. The diary of her journey to England to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 is available here.

Source: Alma Lutz Collection of Documents by and about Abolitionists and Women’s Rights Activists, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

Born in England in 1795, Henry Miles joined the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, at an early age. He relocated his family to Canada and then Vermont, where he became a leading figure in the Peace and Free Produce movements. Miles kept religious diaries, contributed to newspapers, and maintained a voluminous correspondence with fellow abolitionists, fair traders, peace activists, and other social reformers. After the Civil War, he became involved in the Freedmen’s Aid movement. His papers, which cover the period 1826-1880, are divided into three parts.

Part one is available here.

Part two is available here.

Part three is available here.

Source: Henry Miles Papers, MS Am 1074, Houghton Library, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

Morris Officer was an African missionary and the founder of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Educated at Wittenberg University in Ohio, Officer traveled and worked in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Gambia between 1853 and 1861. He established the Muhlenberg Mission, which became home to former slaves freed by the United States Navy. Officer published several books about West Africa and served as a home missionary in various locations prior to his death in 1874. His scrapbooks and diaries chronicle three decades of activities. A detailed biography is available here.

Officer’s diaries from 1848 through 1854 are available here.

Diaries covering 1852 through 1874 are available here.

Source: Thomas Library, Wittenberg University (Springfield, OH) and A.R. Wentz Library, Gettysburg Seminary (Gettysburg, PA)

Fold3 is a private, subscription-based archive service and, as such, it does not share the same open-source, not-for-profit philosophy of History Leaks. Every February, however, the site opens its Black History Collection to the huddled masses for free. Although the site focuses on military records, there are diverse sources on slavery, emancipation, and civil rights. Many of the collections consist of public domain documents scanned from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. Users are encouraged to take advantage of this month-long offer to download as much as they can. More information can be found here.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, DC)

Andrew Hull Foote (1806-1863) was an important American naval officer and Civil War veteran. Between 1849 and 1851, Foote commanded the USS Perry, a ship in the United States African Squadron. Foote worked with British commanders to suppress the transatlantic slave trade and corresponded with Liberian President Joseph Roberts, Daniel Webster, and other famous figures. His book, Africa and the American Flag, draws on his experiences during this period. Between 1856 and 1858, Foote commanded the USS Portsmouth, part of the East India Squadron. During this time, he became involved in the Second Opium War and led a brief occupation of Chinese territory. Consisting of around 1,000 items, these papers document every stage of his global career.

Reel 1, including correspondence between 1838 and 1856, is available here.

Reel 2, including manuscript writings from 1854, is available here.

Reel 3, including letterbooks between 1839 and 1858, is available here.

Reel 4, including ship papers between 1835 and 1860, is available here.

Reel 5, including miscellaneous ledgers and journals, is available here.

Source: Library of Congress Photoduplication Service (microfilm)