Free Black Woman’s Civil War Diaries Available Online at Villanova University Website

emileeDavisEmilee Davis was a young Black woman who worked as a seamstress in Philadelphia in the nineteenth century. She was the author of three leather-bound diaries for the years 1863 through 1865 that were found at the Historical Society of Philadelphia. The first entry, on January 1, 1863, the day in which Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, read, “To day has bin a memorable day and i thank god i have been sperd to see it.”

The diaries were transcribed and annotated and have been published as Emilie Davis’s Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014). The volume was edited by Judith Giesberg, an associate professor at Villanova University.

Professor Giesberg has also set up a website where the diaries can be viewed in their original form and visitors can also access the transcripts and comments added by the editors.

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