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Pleasant (Mary Ellen) Financial Correspondence and Notes
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This collection consists of materials documenting the financial affairs of Mary Ellen Pleasant, an African American woman and entrepreneur known as the Mother of Civil Rights in California. Items include a small autograph note; a signed promissory note; three handwritten letters from A. P. Overton, president of the Savings Bank of Santa Rosa (California), to Pleasant; and three handwritten copy letters from Pleasant to Overton. All items concern a promissory note for $3,000 and a mortgage to a Mrs. Guimaraes.
Mary Ellen Pleasant was an African American woman, abolitionist, and businessperson born around 1814. Many details of Pleasant's life are unclear, including the origins of her name. She likely lacked a surname at birth, or it is unknown. Accounts vary on how and why she took on the names "Ellen" and "Pleasant."1 She personally contributed to several autobiographies and memoirs, however each offers different accounts of her birthplace, year of birth, and parentage.2 In some accounts, Pleasant was born a slave near Augusta, Georgia between 1814 and 1817.3,4, In another account, she was born in Philadelphia to a Louisianan mother and Hawaiian father.5 In one memoir, Pleasant is the illegitimate child of John H. Pleasants, a Virginia governor's son and an enslaved Haitian Vodou (sometimes spelled voodoo) priestess.6
0.1 Linear Feet (1 oversize folder)
Property rights reside with the University of California. These materials are in the public domain. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.
Collection open for research.