Former Owner: Branson Johnson
Date: 1855
Medium: Skin: parchment; ink (iron gall)
Classification: Archives
Object number: 2008.16.1
Label text:Found by donor in December 1976 when cleaning a pocket watch given to him by his father. As he scrubbed, the back of the watch fell open and the papers fell out.

Beginning in 1805, American Law required free-born African-Americans to carry Freedom Papers as proof of their status. These were legal documents issued by county courts.

In Maryland, the law presumed all blacks to be runaway slaves unless they carried Freedom Papers. Freedom Papers bore the person's name and age and listed identifying phycial characteristics including height, complexion and descriptions of any scars or other marks. Theses coveted papers were often forged, stolen or borrowed by runaway slaves to be used to pass free.

If you possessed them, it was important to keep them safe.

DescriptionCertificate of Freedom issued by the State of Maryland dated the 6th of February 1855.
Not on display