In 1855, Passmore Williamson was put on trial and subsequently jailed for 100 days for refusing to reveal the location of former slave Jane Johnson and her children. During his incarceration, which supporters viewed as an overreach of a slavery-sympathetic judge, hundreds of people visited Williamson and left names in his visitors' book. Letters of support arrived from the U.S. and abroad and were added to the book. Leaders of the abolitionist movement, including Harriet Tubman, Robert Purvis, and Frederick Douglass, appear in the book, along with hundreds of other supporters of Williamson and the abolitionist cause.
In 2013, the Passmore Williamson Visitors' Book was selected as one of Pennsylvania's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. These ten artifacts were chosen from a pool of submissions from Pennsylvania non-profits by professionals at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). But that was only the first hurdle. The funds available from CCAHA needed to be matched by winning instutitutions. This collection documents the fundraising effort, the results of the conservation project, and the Passmore Williamson Visitors' Book's journey to being voted the People's Choice for item most in need of conservation in the state of Pennsylvania.
A log of signatures of visitors to Passmore Williamson during his five month incarceration in 1855, followed by letters pasted into the book. While…