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Seating "Negroes" in the Old Hadley meetinghouse
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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When the new Congregational Church was built in Hadley, Massachusetts in 1808, the pews on the main floor were sold and seating in each section of the gallery was designated by gender and race. Parts of the north gallery were reserved for the use of males, and parts of the south for females. This letter describes where the "Negroes" (free Blacks) were seated. They were also in the gallery but in "arched" pews (probably meaning covered) separated from the rest of the gallery by a balustrade, or barrier, that prevented the "Negroes" from having any communication with other people in the church. The pews on the main floor of the church were sold to families-the most expensive at the front of the church-and there was a stipulation that no Negro would ever sit in the pews assigned to whites. If the pew were to be sold to or allowed to be used by a Negro, there was a penalty to the seller or owner. Even though they were living in the North, these Negroes were subject to discrimination and prejudice.
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