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Catalog Data

Subject of:
Harriet Lawson, American, born 1803  Search this
Caleb Lawson  Search this
Medium:
ink on writing paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 5 × 7 15/16 in. (12.7 × 20.2 cm)
Type:
legal documents
manuscripts
Place made:
Frederick County, Maryland, United States, North and Central America
Date:
May 21, 1832
Caption:
To Visit Your Husband: Harriet Lawson’s Pass, 1832
Harriet Lawson carried this pass to visit her husband, Caleb, at work in a nearby town. As free blacks, the Lawsons could legally marry, but Maryland placed limits on their liberty. If they traveled without a pass, they could be fined $20 or sold into slavery.
The Back of Lawson’s Pass
If stopped, Lawson would face the humiliation of being physically inspected. This pass described her as: “Black, 29 yrs of age five feet high has a mole on the right side of her right eye no other perceptible mark.”
Source: Nancy Bercaw, Curator, Slavery and Freedom
Description:
A free woman's pass for a free African American woman, Harriet Lawson, to visit her husband Caleb Lawson, signed in Frederick County, Maryland, on May 21, 1832. Davis Richardson is listed as the witness. The pass is on a single sheet of paper. There is handwriting in ink on both recto and verso, handwriting in pencil on verso only. The proper right side has discoloration and abrasions with loss of paper along the edge but no apparent loss of text. The ink writing from the verso side is visible faintly through to the recto side. Creases remain from the pass having been folded twice, once lengthwise and once widthwise.
Topic:
African American  Search this
American South  Search this
Families  Search this
Free communities of color  Search this
Freedom  Search this
Law  Search this
United States--History--1815-1861  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2014.63.7
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Documents and Published Materials-Business and Legal Documents
Exhibition:
Slavery and Freedom
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Concourse 3, C3 053
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2014.63.7