Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Emancipation Celebration, Georgia
Library of Congress

Juneteenth celebration
June 19th is celebrated in Texas as the anniversary of Emancipation---

Not the day that Lincoln issued the Proclamation, which was in September, 1862
or the day enforcement began, which was January 1st, 1863.

But the June day that Texas slaves
 heard that they were free.

Today we tend to celebrate abolition and emancipation in general on Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday in January, which is a national holiday.

But after the Civil War and into the twentieth century different cities celebrated on different dates.

In Washington City a celebration of abolition was held on April 15, 1866
captured in Harper's Weekly.
April 16th is still celebrated there as the date when slavery was abolished in the capitol in 1862.

Details capture the usual festivities:

Dressing in one's best and reunions with old friends.

Music was an important part of the celebration
Above, the Slayton Jubilee Singers in the early 20th century.

There were parades like this one in Richmond, Virginia on April 3, 1905,

And mourning for Lincoln, the "Great Emancipator"

...as in this 1888 photo. Both of the above pictures are from the collection of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. April 3 was the date that Richmond was captured by Union troops.
Read more here:
Click on those decades at the bottom of their page to read newspaper accounts over the years.

Parades continued in Essex County, Virginia on April 3rd for decades.

In Preble County, Ohio, people celebrated "The Blessings of Liberty" on September 22nd in 1881, the date Lincoln signed the Proclamation in 1862. The poster is from the Ohio Historical Society's collection. 

Gallia County, Ohio has been celebrating on the September date since 1863.

Laurel, Maryland
September 1

Portland, Oregon, January 1, 1869

Several cities celebrate on January 1, the day of Jubilee, when paraders and picnickers might suffer from inclement weather in the depths of winter. Baltimore celebrated on November 1 in 1864.


Tallahassee celebrates in May when Florida's slaves were freed. Canadians celebrate in August as do Kansans in Hutchinson

Joplin Missouri, August, 1952
A toast of Pepsi

1916 Celebration and Reunion of Former Slaves
Washington D.C.
Library of Congress

As the generations who lived through slavery aged, their grandchildren came to forget the meaning in the dates and most of the local celebrations died out. The 150th Anniversary of Civil War events has inspired some revivals.

My latest reproduction collection from Moda celebrates
this year's 150th anniversary of  the Emancipation Proclamation.
See more here:


  1. Nice history lesson for me this morning! Your latest fabrci is lovely.

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  3. Barbara, I wanted to tell you that I found your blog and fabrics in several ways. I work with a friend of yours from about 45 years ago - Margaret. You know her from KU. When I told her I'm making a Kansas Troubles quilt, she mentioned your name. I thought it sounded familiar. I looked at the pattern and at the fabrics I'd bought - and both bear your name! The reason I'm making this quilt is for my son who is currently making a movie in Kansas set in the 1870's, and this is to be part of the set design. My husband will be going to KS in August to be extras in the movie. I was wondering if you are still located in Lawrence, that maybe we could meet and I could see some quilts at the Spencer Art Museum. Anyway, I love the small world of this story, and hope to connect. Best, Debby Alexander

  4. Barbara, This is Debby Alexander again. My email address is d2.alexander@verizon.net. Hoping to hear from you. Thank you. -Debby