Robert Anderson papers , 1735-circa 1878, 1908 and undated, bulk 1735-1859
Using These Materials
- Collection is open for research.
- Anderson, Robert and John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
- Collection comprises correspondence, documents and print materials 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 to 1859, and consist of over eighty letters, both incoming and outgoing, many legal and financial papers, other manuscript documents, and ephemeral print items such as broadsides and circulars. One folder contains military muster lists and fines stemming from Anderson's service as clerk of the 68th regiment of the Virginia militia. Topics in the correspondence include slavery and slave trade, particularly in Virginia, colonization efforts, emancipation, the status of mixed-race individuals, Virginia and U.S. politics, Virginia military history, religion and church affairs, and education. Of particular note are several letters and documents relating to Anderson's children, who he fathered with one or more slaves; one of these children, Haidee, was sent to Eaglewood, a boarding school run by abolitionists Angelina Grimké Weld and Theodore Dwight Weld. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.
0.5 Linear Feet
1 box, 1 oversize folder
- Materials in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
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.
- Biographical / Historical:
Robert Anderson (1781-1859) was a merchant, insurance company agent, Whig politician, and planter residing in Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia. He served as Williamsburg's mayor from 1812 to 1813, 1820 to 1821 and finally 1828 to 1829, and was a militia captain in Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia until 1837.
Anderson was a wealthy businessman with varied interests. He was an insurance agent, merchant, steamship company owner, and administrator and executor of several estates. He owned property in both James City and York counties, Virginia, and resided permanently in Yorktown. He was heavily involved and interested in local and state politics. He owned, bought, and sold slaves; at the same time he also subscribed to colonization efforts of emancipated slaves.
Anderson married Helen Macauley Southall, widow of Peyton Southall, in 1814; they had no children, but Helen had four children from her previous marriage. Anderson fathered four children with one of his slaves: three daughters and one son. One of these daughters, Catherine Haidee Griffin, was sent to Eagleswood School in New Jersey, run by abolitionists and educators Angelina Grimké Weld and Reverend Theodore Weld. She then was educated in Massachusetts for a time, and was emancipated only after Anderson's death, and by his will was named the owner of her mother and two younger sisters. Robert Anderson died in 1859.
- Acquisition Information:
- The Robert Anderson papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2013 and 2014.
- Processing information:
Processed by: Levi Crews and Paula Jeannet, January 2014.
Accessions described in this finding aid: 2013-0057, 2014-0001.
Arranged in four groupings: correspondence, militia records, financial papers, and legal and printed papers.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
Robert Anderson papers, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library, Special Collections (35 vols, 4,728 items)
Robert Anderson papers, 1790-1858, Firestone Library Manuscripts Division, Princeton University (1.2 linear feet)
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Correspondence
Slave trade -- Virginia -- History
Racially mixed people -- Virginia -- 19th century
Planters -- Virginia -- Correspondence
Plantations -- Virginia
Child slaves -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Miscegenation -- Virginia
Child slaves -- Virginia
Antislavery movements -- United States
Abolitionists -- New Jersey -- Correspondence
Slavery -- Virginia
African Americans -- Virginia
African Americans -- Education
Virginia. Militia. Regiment, 68th
Raritan Bay Union (Eagleswood, N.J.)
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
Anderson family (Virginia)
Grimké, Angelina Emily, 1805-1879
Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895
Yorktown (Va.) -- History
Virginia -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865
Virginia -- Religion
Virginia -- History -- 1775-1865
York County (Va.) -- History
James City County (Va.) -- History
Williamsburg (Va.) -- History
Williamsburg (Va.) -- Politics and government
York County (Va.) -- Politics and government
Using These Materials
Collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Robert Anderson papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.