Blockley Almshouse – 1847 Philadelphia African-American Census

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Click here to view 1847 Census Data.

Click here to view scans of 1847 Census documents.

1838 view of the Blockley Almshouse from the East bank of the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia. Permanent Market Street Bridge shown at right.
(Photo Credits)

Free Black Americans were alive in the 1850s. Their stories are told in the 1847 Philadelphia African-American Census.

The Philadelphia African-American Census of 1847, conducted by a committee of Quakers appointed by the Meeting for Sufferings of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox), contains forty-three elements of information for more than four thousand households. The purpose of the committee initially was to prepare a report on the slave trade, but after further consideration, the committee determined that it was also important to examine the condition of the African-American population of Philadelphia. Their vision was both to document the existence of an “industrious and thriving” portion of that population and to discover what portion of the community may have been in need of attention and assistance. Their survey was distilled into a 44 page report published as A Statistical Inquiry into the Condition of the People of Colour of the City and Districts of Philadelphia (1849).

The census contains information from over four thousand “households,” but this does not include the many free African-Americans were living in the Blockley Almshouse at the time. This section is dedicated to Blockley Almshouse volume of the 1847 Census.