Robert Anderson papers , 1735-circa 1878, 1908 and undated, bulk 1735-1859 0.5 Linear Feet — 1 box, 1 oversize folder
Collection consists of correspondence, documents and ephemera belonging to merchant and land owner Robert Anderson of Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia. The materials date from 1735-1908, with the bulk dating from 1735-1859. The earliest document is a deed of gift of land from Thomas Vine of York County, Virginia, to his grandson.
There are over 100 pieces of incoming and outgoing correspondence dating from 1804 to 1859, with a few letters dated much later. Many of the retained copies and drafts are written on small slips of paper and docketed, which appears to have been Anderson's idiosyncratic method of dealing with his correspondence. Topics include religion and church matters; U.S. and Virginia politics; Virginia history; mercantile transactions; education; and slavery, including prices for slaves in the Richmond market, and Anderson's correspondence referring to purchases and sales of individual slaves. A printed circular letter from 1850 concerns colonization efforts to send freed slaves to Liberia.
Of note are several letters relating to children Anderson fathered with enslaved women, especially his daughter Haidee, who he sent to Eaglewood, the boarding school run by abolitionists Angelina Grimké and Theodore Dwight Weld; one long letter was written by Grimké to Anderson, exhorting him to emancipate Haidee and her mother. Eaglewood was part of the utopian community in Raritan Union Bay, New Jersey.
Stemming from Anderson's work as clerk for the 68th Regiment of the Virginia militia in James City County (Jamestown), there are 39 items, some written by Anderson, some by the Sheriff of Williamsburg, which consist chiefly of detailed muster lists and fines (1806-1858), and two printed lists of individuals receiving military pensions received due to an Act of Congress in 1828. Other documents in the collection refer to Virginia history during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and to the history of the Virginia Norfolk Junior Volunteers, founded in 1802, in which Anderson served.
There are also deeds, wills, and other documents; several dozen financial receipts; and a few printed and partially printed ephemeral items. Family names appearing in the deeds, bonds, and other documents are Bryan, Coke, Moody, Dickeson, Nelson, White, and Chapman. Among the later documents is a list of medical expenses from 1852 that seem to relate to Anderson's slaves or servants, and an 1858 bill for boarding school expenses for Haidee, signed by Theodore Weld. A document from 1855 records citizens protesting a request from the ship "Seabird" to land cargo and passengers, due to an outbreak of yellow fever in the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.