Skip to Main Content


Black History Month - February

1764 Receipt for Sale of Phebey, Enslaved Child to Framingham Widow

Bill of Sale for Phebey, Enslaved Child, 1764, From the Framingham History Center. Transcript available.

Picture of original bill of sale written in cursive

Background information from the Framingham History Center.

"This document serves as a receipt for the sale of Phebey, an enslaved child, by Josiah Richardson of Sudbury to Elizabeth Balch, a Framingham widow.  It is the most complete document relating to the sale of an enslaved person in our collection.

Phebey was not an anomaly in Framingham. A 1760 tax accounting identifies seven “slaves for life” in town, but there had once been far more. Most prominent households in town counted at least one enslaved person within their number. 

Phebey, who was just two years old at the time of sale, was sold to the Widow Balch for 1 pound, 6 shillings, and 8 pence, the modern equivalent of roughly $370. This document forces us to face the ways in which the white people of Framingham owed their success to the subjugation and dehumanization of people of African descent, and to consider the echoes of this practice that still exist today. Continued records of Phebey’s life are lost, but if she lived to see slavery outlawed in the state in 1783, she would have been 21 years old."


More from the Framingham History Center collection - "Among the ranks of Framingham’s enslaved people are well-known heroes of the Revolutionary War Crispus Attucks and Peter Salem. But the nature of enslavement is such that for every Crispus Attucks, there were legions of less famous names — Hannover, Blaney Grusha, Gloster, Jane — and countless others we may never know. Their systematic dehumanization means that, in most cases, the only remaining evidence of their lives can be found in estate inventories and sales receipts like this one, written records in which they are treated no differently than a common household object." This collection also includes Bill of Sale that lists all the enslaved people positively identified in Framingham.

American Revolutionary War Hero

Crispus Attucks first to die in Boston Massacre, 1770 - born in Framingham. From the Framingham History Center.

Portrait of Crisus Attucks

See also the page about Peter Salem, Revolutionary War Soldier.

Local Online Collections - Primary Sources

African American Online Sources at the Massachusetts Historical Society (in Boston). Includes 

Anti-Slavery Collection at The Boston Public Library

African American Women collections at Radcliffe College's Schlesinger Library

W.E.B. Du Bois Papers, 1803-1999 (build 1877-1963) at UMass Amherst

Black Heritage Trail from the Museum of African American History - click "Start" to see information about 14 sites with Google "street view"

"Between 20 and 40 colonists of the approximately 4,000 who fought on the Battle Road on April 19, 1775, were African or Native American." The National Park Service provides some of their stories - Patriots of Color. As well as in their online book - Patriots of Color: 'A Peculiar Beauty and Merit' 

Art - From the Danforth Museum

Sculpture / statue of a woman

Maquette for Ethiopia Awakening, 1921, Painted plaster

The Danforth Museum at Framingham State has The Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Collection permanently on view including a "a re-creation of Fuller’s first studio in Framingham, which was in the attic of her home (c. 1920)." "Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877–1968), an American sculptor, is known for her groundbreaking depictions of the African and African-American experience."

Photo of Meta Warrick Fuller in her studio

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller in her art studio.

FSU Black Lives Matter Movement: #blacklivesmatter Guide