Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler Collection, 1815-1845

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: Elizabeth Margaret Chandler collection
Creator: Chandler, Elizabeth Margaret, 1807-1834
Inclusive dates: 1815-1845
Extent: 16 items
This collection contains two poems, one letter and various ephemera of the prominent poet and abolitionist writer Elizabeth Margaret Chandler.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated, 1962. M-1234.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The poet and abolitionist writer, Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, was born in Centre, Delaware, in 1807, to Thomas Chandler and Margaret Evans. Her mother died soon after her birth, and when she was nine years old, her father died. She grew up in Philadelphia and was raised a Quaker by her maternal grandmother and aunts. At a young age, she joined a female anti-slavery society, and remained active in the abolition movement throughout her life. Chandler attended school until she was 13, but continued writing poetry and prose after her formal education. Chandler was one of the first female poets to focus on antislavery, and when she was 18, she won third prize from the Casket monthly journal for her poem, The Slave Ship. This poem, along with many others, were reprinted in Genius of Universal Emancipation, a Philadelphia newspaper. In 1829, Genius hired Chandler to edit and contribute to "The Female Repository" page.

In 1830, Chandler moved to the Michigan Territory near the village of Tecumseh with her brother Thomas and Aunt Ruth. She continued to edit and contribute to the Genius by mail, while also contributing to William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator. In 1832, she founded the Logan Anti-Slavery Society, and remained active in abolitionist causes until she died of a fever on November 2, 1834, at the age of 26.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This small collection holds two poems, one letter, various ephemera, and printed materials. The first, and most substantial poem is Elegy (1793): On a Negroe Woman of the name of Rose, deceased in Philadelphia, remarkable for her innocent and sincerely pious life. Wrote by a person well acquainted with her conduct and virtues. The poem, which was written before Chandler's birth, is unattributed, and apart from its abolitionist sentiment, its relation to Chandler is unclear. The second poem is a small piece of paper with three short undated stanzas, written by Chandler. The letter, dated December 20, 1830, is addressed to the "Female Antislavery Society of Philadelphia" (not the eponymous society founded by Lucretia Mott in 1833), and sent from Lucy Townshend and Mary L. Lloyd of the Female Society, for Birmingham, West-Bromwich, Wednesbury, Walsall, and Their Respective Neighborhoods, for the Relief of British Negro Slaves. The ephemera items are two small calling cards, one "Lady's Ticket" to lectures at the Franklin Institute, and 1 cut-out silhouette of a female.

Printed material includes 5 prints regarding slavery, 3 books, and a small broadside (see Separated Items for descriptions and locations of this material). The graphic materials are black and white prints depicting: an image of a kneeling slave, often captioned "Am I not a Woman and a Sister?" taken from, and popularized by, Chandler's "Female Repository" page of The Genius of Universal Emancipation (October 16, 1829); a black man being held and whipped by a party of four other black men, all watched by a white man; overhead and cross-section views of a slave ship, with a detail showing the tiny slave quarters; and a black man on one knee looking forlorn as a white master whips a four-man working party in the background; and a picture entitled "United States Slave Trade" that shows well-to-do white men, one on a horse, inspecting and choosing chained male slaves as a black female and two children watch on. Visible in the background of this last piece are the United States Capitol Building, black work parties, and a slave being whipped.

Subject Terms

    • American poetry--Women authors.
    • Antislavery movements--United States--History--19th century.
    • Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society.
    • Quaker women--United States--History.
    • Slavery--United States.
    • Slavery--West Indies.
    • Women slaves.
    Genre Terms:
    • Broadsides.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Poems.
    • Silhouettes.
    • Visiting cards.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   2, Small Collections  
    Elizabeth Margaret Chandler collection,  1793-1830 and  undated [series]
    Folder   14  
    Elegy,  1793
    Three short poems
    Letter to the Female Anti-slavery Society of Philadelphia,  1830
    Name card,  1810
    Name card,  1815
    Ticket to the Franklin Institute
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    This collection was donated in 1962. Along with these manuscript items, the donation included four books and five prints, listed below:



    • The Graphics Division holds 5 slavery related prints
    Related Materials

    For the correspondence of Elizabeth Chandler and her family see the Bentley Historical Library's Elizabeth Margaret Chandler papers, 1793-1854.


    Baker, Martha K. "Chandler, Elizabeth Margaret," American National Biography Online , Feb. 2000.