Posts Tagged ‘Rebecca Sinclair Turner’

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To Benefit The Human Family

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2015 by rob schoeberlein Tagged: , , , , , ,

BRG 16, 1865-257

Petition of “Friends Association in Aid of Freeman,” signed by Rebecca Sinclair Turner, BRG16, 1865-257

As African Americans freed from the bonds of slavery made their way to Baltimore in the winter of 1864, their appearance within the city elicited mixed reactions from the white citizenry.[1]  Rebecca Sinclair Turner, a white member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), had a positive, sympathetic response. As a manager of the Friends’ Association in Aid of Freeman, she helped to house the sick and indigent former slaves, referred others to jobs, and sewed new garments as substitutes for their plantation tow cloth. Her actions sprang forth from what she deemed to be her greater purpose. Turner’s 1865 New Year’s Day journal entry revealed:

I have much to be thankful for–and [personal] desires have arisen that I may be more faithful in the performance of my duties… in all concerns pertaining to this life, whereby the human family may be benefited, and that I may so walk and act not to be a stumbling block in the way of others.[2]

Rebecca Sinclair Turner

Rebecca Sinclair Turner

Other Baltimoreans joined Turner in choosing to benefit the human family by assisting both the freedmen and the city’s general African American population, founding private, non-denominational benevolent organizations to do so.  Their ranks, derived mostly from Union sympathizers and previously helpful persons, such as Quakers and Unitarians, were few in number. This small but very significant cadre of idealistic Marylanders attempted to maximize the effects of emancipation in Baltimore by first organizing schools for the freedmen and their children.  Later, they helped to found an orphanage for the children of deceased US Colored Troops and a home for the elderly. These activities served to supplement the ongoing efforts of Baltimore’s own African American community to aid the newly emancipated.

[1] Appeal for the Shelter of Aged and Infirmed Colored People (1881), Printed Ephemera, Box D-15, Prints & Photographs Department, Maryland Historical Society Library.

[2] January 1, 1865 entry, Rebecca Sinclair Turner diary, Turner Family Papers, RG 5, 152, Society of Friends Archives, Swathmore College.