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|Plan of Hadley Meetinghouse|
Gallery- B.M.- B.W.
Hadley Mass. Nov. 8th 1874.
Geo. Sheldon Esq.
According to prom-
ise I send you a plan of the gallery of the
old church in Hadley. The pews for the
Negroes were in the tower, and were reached
from the rear, and were open in front &
a balustrade which prevented any commu-
nication with the other seats in the gal-
lery. The black men (B.M.) sat on the south
side and the black females on the north.
the church fronting east. In all trans-
fers by deed, of pews, it was expressly stipu-
lated that no negro was ever to sit in any
of the pews for whites, & penalty attached.
With many thanks for your kindness in
placing your records at my disposal I am
Your Obedient Servant
A. B. Munn
P.S. These negro pews are arched over the top.
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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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Seating "Negroes" in the Old Hadley meetinghouse
| author Asa B. Munn (1823-1896)
| date Nov 8, 1874
| location Hadley, Massachusetts
| height 8.0"
| width 5.0"
| process/materials manuscript, paper, ink
| item type Personal Documents/Letter
| accession # #L09.008
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