First Full-Length Biography by African American, Life of Martin Delany

ROLLIN, Frank A. (Frances Anne Rollin Whipper, ca 1845-1901). Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany, Sub-Assistant Commissioner Bureau Relief of Refugees, Freedmen, and of Abandoned Lands and Late Major 104th Colored Troops. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1868.

8vo (134 x 197 mm). Publisher’s green cloth with gilt shield and title to spine (minor scuffing to boards and spine, lightly bumped lower corner, near fine).

FIRST EDITION. Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885) was one of the first black men admitted to Harvard Medical School and led a distinguished medical career in addition to his journalistic pursuits and interest in foreign colonization for African Americans. During the Civil War, he served as a surgeon in the famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteers and also aided in recruitment efforts. In February 1865, he became the first black man to receive a regular army commission when promoted to major in the 104th US Colored Troops.

Frances Anne Rollin Whipper was a free woman of color who was educated at the The Quaker School for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. When she was illegally refused first class passage on a ferry in 1865, she sued the captain and was aided by Delany, then working in the Freedmen’s Bureau. Delany, impressed by Frances, asked her to write his biography. When published in 1868, it was the first full-length biography written by an African-American. Very scarce.


Near fine. Minor scuffing to board and especially spine. Very minor bump to lower corner. Pages evenly toned. Very tight binding with clean pages. 

Estimate: $500 - $1,000
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