The American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) was founded in 1833 by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and ran until 1870 when the Society was disbanded. They called for the immediate abolition of slavery in the United States by signing petitions that were sent to Congress and printed and distributed abolitionist propaganda. Agents and lecturers were sent out to bring their message to Northern communities. Most participants were drawn from religious, philanthropic and free Black communities; six freed slaves served on the Board of Managers. Only eloquent testimonies from former slaves were presented at their public meetings.
One of the most significant ways the Society was able to distribute its message was through the use of the Anti-Slavery Almanac. There were several regional versions of the Almanac that were published; the New England Anti-Slavery Almanac, Western Liberty Almanack and the German Anti-slavery Almanac, which was distributed amongst German-speaking communities. A local variation from Rhode Island, however, only allowed the anti-slavery content to be published at the very end of a traditional almanac. Almanacs were associated with prediction and superstition during the 18th century, but by the late 18th century they were far more rational and served as vehicles for Enlightenment thought. The Anti-Slavery Almanac was able to integrate its abolitionist message by taking on the format of a conventional almanac and its usual discourse of numeracy. Almanacs consisted of information like weather predictions, the moon’s rising and setting, and a monthly calendar.
This exhibit uses the example of the 1839 Anti-Slavery Almanac published by the AASS to convey how the organization combined practical, everyday information with a pretty blunt anti-slavery message.