Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

West, Benjamin (fl. 1810) [Certificate of emancipation for Priscilla a negro woman]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03434.04 Author/Creator: West, Benjamin (fl. 1810) Place Written: Urbanna, Virginia Type: Manuscript document signed Date: 20 January 1810 Pagination: 1 p. : docket ; 15 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Certificate stating that Benjamin West, a free negro, has bought the freedom of Priscilla, who will be his wife. "Benjamin West a free negro having purchased a negrowoman named Priscilla...Do hereby liberate and emancipate the said negrowoman Priscilla...On condition the said negrowoman Priscilla is allowed to live with me as a wife during my life and not to be molested or disturbed by any person in authority under the act of assembly in that case made and provided." West signs with his mark. Also signed by Thomas Healy, George Healy, James Handate and Thomas Muse

People: West, Benjamin, fl. 1810

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: African American HistoryAfrican American AuthorWomen's HistoryMarriageSlaverySlave SaleLawGovernment and CivicsEmancipationManumissionFreemen

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources