By Laura Blanchard
Resistance takes many forms and embraces many topics.
In the Philadelphia region, resistance began with a protest against slavery in 1688 and continues to this day. Our ancestors and our neighbors could be found on the front lines of movements to foster emancipation; assert the rights of women, minorities and others; and challenge the status quo in science and religion.
And some of our ancestors and neighbors could be found on the other side, pushing back against efforts to extend rights or challenge the norms.
As we work to make sure that current and future resistance narratives are captured, preserved, and shared, we can also look back at materials that have been safeguarded in the region’s libraries and archives. Here is a sampling:
Germantown Protest, 1688. Written by four members of Germantown Meeting, this is the first organized protest against slavery in the United States. Haverford College, Quaker and Special Collections.
Letter from celebrated abolitionist and supporter of black and woman suffrage Lucretia Mott to C. W. Pennock expressing her support for emancipation. Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College.
Two pamphlets on the Molly Maguires, a controversial and occasionally violent nineteenth century labor movement. These pamphlets are part of a significant pushback to sympathetic portrayals of the Mollies. Hagley Museum & Library
The Trial of Frank Kelly, for the Assassination and Murder of Octavius V. Catto, on October 10, 1871. This pamphlet, published by an African American printer, reflects contemporary reaction to his tragic death. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Collage of documents relating to the death of Octavius V. Catto and the imprisonment of members of the Christiana Riots. (One member’s trial was the first national challenge to the Fugitive Slave Law, and his acquittal galvanized the abolitionist movement.) City of Philadelphia, City Archives.
Black Opals: Hail Negro Youth. Short-lived pamphlet literary journal focusing on black public school students in Philadelphia. Advisory committee included major figures in the New Negro movement (local to Philadelphia and broadly through the USA) and 1st issue includes influential piece by Alain Locke “All Hail Philadelphia.” Free Library of Philadelphia.
Kara Williams, Freedom, a Fable: A curious interpretation of the wit of a Negress in troubled times, with illustrations. Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives.
Collage of materials relating to the opposition of Nancy Michael Shukaitis to the Tocks Island Dam. Lehigh University Library.
Interim report of the Cold Fusion Panel (CFP) of the Energy Research Advisory Board (ERAB), which concludes that the experiments which were reported to have achieved cold fusion do not present any convincing evidence of its usefulness. Science History Institute.
Collage of anti-draft materials published in and around San Francisco 1964-1966. La Salle University, Connelly Library.
“I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist.” Landmark address by “Dr. Anonymous” to the American Psychiatric Association, 1972, challenging the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Collage of photographs and other material from the 2011 Occupy Philadelphia movement. Temple University Special Collections Research Center.