Mary Maillard

Independent Historian

Mary Maillard is a documentary editor from West Vancouver, British Columbia.

In 2013/ 2014, she received an Albert M. Greenfield Foundation Fellowship in African American History from the Library Company of Philadelphia to further her research on the 19th C African American archival collection, The Annie Wood Webb Papers, which she discovered in 2012. Her article “‘Faithfully Drawn from Real Life:’ Autobiographical Elements in Frank J. Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends” draws on that research to recover the early biographies of author Frank J. Webb and his mother Louisa Burr (Webb, Darius) and to present evidence that Webb was the mixed race grandson of U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. Maillard’s review essay of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep appeared in Black Camera: An International Film Journal in Fall 2017. Her most recent edition, Whispers of Cruel Wrongs: The Correspondence of Louisa Jacobs and Her Circle 1879-1911, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2017 (paper 2020).

Mary Virginia Wood (Forten) (1815-1840)

Mary Virginia Wood is best known as the mother of poet, diarist, and abolitionist Charlotte Forten, but she was also an abolitionist in her own right. Born enslaved in Hertford, Perquimans County, North Carolina, Mary was the eldest of the four daughters of wealthy planter … Read MoreMary Virginia Wood (Forten) (1815-1840)

Louisa Matilda Jacobs (1833-1917)

Louisa “Lulu” Matilda Jacobs, teacher, equal rights activist, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, on October 19, 1833. She was the daughter of congressman and newspaper editor Samuel Tredwell Sawyer and his mixed-race enslaved mistress Harriet Jacobs. Louisa Jacobs was educated … Read MoreLouisa Matilda Jacobs (1833-1917)

Pierre Toussaint (ca. 1781-1853) and Marie-Rose Juliette Gaston (1786-1851)

Pierre Toussaint, New York society hairdresser, devout Catholic, and wealthy philanthropist, was born a third-generation elite house slave at the Bérard family plantation in Haiti. His father’s name is not known but he took his surname in honor of revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture. His mother, … Read MorePierre Toussaint (ca. 1781-1853) and Marie-Rose Juliette Gaston (1786-1851)

Francis Johnson [Frank J.] Webb (1828-1894)

Francis Johnson Webb, newspaper editor, educator, equal rights activist, and the second published African American novelist, was born free on March 21, 1828, in Philadelphia to Louisa Burr and Francis Webb.  His mother, Louisa Charlotte Burr (c1785-1878), was the illegitimate daughter of former vice president … Read MoreFrancis Johnson [Frank J.] Webb (1828-1894)

George W. Lowther (1822-1898)

Image Ownership: Public Domain George W. Lowther, barber, abolitionist, equal school rights activist, and Massachusetts legislator, was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina, to Polly Lowther.  His father’s identity is unknown.  His mother, Polly Lowther (c.1780-1864) was an Edenton baker, the slave of wealthy … Read MoreGeorge W. Lowther (1822-1898)

Dating Harriet Jacobs: Why Birthdates Matter to Historians

Image Ownership: Public Domain In the article that follows British Columbian historian and documentary editor, Mary Maillard, explores the controversy surrounding the precise birthdate of slave narrative author, Harriet Jacobs, and reminds us why precision matters. Earlier this year (2013), numerous celebrations marked the two … Read MoreDating Harriet Jacobs: Why Birthdates Matter to Historians