Selections from The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison’s Abolitionist Newspaper

Audio introduction by the Author / Researcher / Collector.

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William Lloyd Garrison

This is a collection of items which appear in THE LIBERATOR, a Boston-based Abolitionist newspaper, published under the editorship of William Lloyd Garrison, who lived from 1805–1879.

The assembled items represent only a tiny portion of what appeared in the 1,803 editions of the paper, published weekly from 1831-1865. They have been gathered here for the Boston African American National Historic Site, by National Park Ranger Horace Seldon, under the guidance of the Site Manager, Kenneth Heidelberg, and Supervisory Ranger, Bernadette Williams. The source of the collection has been Garrison’s copies of THE LIBERATOR., access to which has been granted and facilitated by Roberta Zonghi, Keeper, of the Boston Public Library, Rare Books.

This is a “work-in-progress”, and will be regularly supplemented as further reading is accomplished. At any given “moment” of access, the years listed will indicate items from THE LIBERATOR. which are currently entered, by year. These years will be regularly updated.

The personal history which led me to THE LIBERATOR, began with my work as the Founding Director of Community Change, Inc., a Boston organization dedicated to education about and action to eliminate racism. A desire to understand the origins of this systemic dis-ease led to an opportunity to design an academic course, titled The History of Racism in the United States of America. Boston College provided the venue for that course, where I taught it for fifty-two semesters between 1980 and 2006. Both the course and the organization continue today, under different leadership.

William Lloyd GarrisonStudy of the Abolition Movement, led me to William Lloyd Garrison, and a desire to know him better. I want always to learn more about him, and to learn from him. So I was driven to THE LIBERATOR., to his own copies of the newspaper, where the privilege of touching and turning those pages has brought many surprises and much inspiration.

On another portion of this website, the title, Molehills and Mountains, is an attempt to say something of what has emerged as a major thrust of this work, to lift up for readers both the problem and the hope which Garrison experienced. The spectrums of “problem” and “hope” are present always, and might serve to guide and prod us today.

What Is/Is Not Here

William Lloyd GarrisonThe compiler of this site worked directly from Garrison’s own copies of the newspaper, on file at the Rare Books Room of the Boston Public Library. That direct “touch” of the pages,(dusty, sometimes torn) made the choices of what to include both exciting and more difficult. Reading the small type, on pages bound in volumes, propped up for viewing, begged for longer attention to each page than time permitted.

Here are some things to consider:

The choice of items to be included has been prejudiced by the personal interests of the collector; it is hoped those interests may match yours often enough to make your search productive.

These are “snippets” of information, never to be claimed as representing either the editor or the paper in any larger sense.

Sometimes it has been difficult to tell the name of a place or a person, which may not be fully given in the text. A town name might appear, with no state given, and there has been generally no attempt to guess.

Often an item appears with a single letter to designate the writer. It is easy to guess that “G” means the editor, William Lloyd Garrison, or “Q” refers to Edmund Quincy, guest editor at times. Often the simple letter is left as it appears in the text, without attempt to guess who it signifies.

The categories often include names of individuals. In some cases the reference will include only the name of the person, indicating that she/he was present at a meeting, or the subject of an oblique reference. In some cases the reference leads to more substantive information.

The collector of this data has tried to use punctuations as used in the paper. Spelling and punctuation usually appear as in the paper, even where errors are obvious. That does not excuse other errors made by the collector! Typos and mistakes will be inevitably found. .

THE LIBERATOR devotes many pages and columns to poetry; the length of those lines has led to most of it being excluded here; those who seek that very important part of the newspaper will be disappointed.

Included are a number of items which have little obvious relationship to the purpose of the paper. They are there sometimes because they give a “flavor” of the spectrum of concerns of the editor, and sometimes, we suspect, simply because they are “fillers” for space which might otherwise have been empty! Try reading some of them; you may have unexpected fun!

Horace Seldon