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Curtis W. Jacobs diary and account book

Identifier: MS 3036


Diary and account book of Curtis W. Jacobs, a wealthy Worcester County, Maryland planter, state legislator, and ardent supporter of slavery. This book primarily details his business transactions, especially those relating to the enslaved people on his farm.


  • 1854-1866


Conditions Governing Access

Public access restricted to digital reproduction or microfilm [see microfilm MS 802].

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Note

Curtis Washington Jacobs (b. 1815), sometimes known as C. W. Jacobs, was a planter in Worcester County, Maryland, and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1860-1861, where his position in favor of states' rights and his support of the institution of slavery is well-documented.


1 Volumes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. H. Thayer Kinsbury in 1990; accession # 003050.

Scope and Contents

This single volume kept by Curtis W. Jacobs details business transactions, especially those relating to the enslaved people who worked his farm.

The first portion of the volume is an accounting of the expenses (about $3,000) incurred by Jacobs while building an addition onto his house in Worcester County, Maryland and constructing outbuildings on the same property from 1853-1856. A few pages of memoranda regarding land for sale in Alabama follow. Next is an 1856 narrative justification for sending 38 enslaved persons to work for various men in Wilcox County, Alabama. As reasons for splitting them up and sending them away, Jacobs claims there were successful and unsuccessful attempts by the enslaved men to run away and that the enslaved women "murdered their own children after birth" and attempted abortions. He believes there were also several "united" attempts to poison the Jacobs family as well as a well-planned armed exodus, helped by "hired abolitionists" in Canada and the free black population in the area. Jacobs lists his attempts to instruct the enslaved people on his farm in morality and religion, in his opinion, to no avail. The next few pages then detail his accounting for the enslaved individuals hired out in Alabama from 1856-1859.

The second half of the volume, which covers the years 1863 to 1866, relates how several of the enslaved people on his farm ran away in October 1863 to join the Union army. He explains that he was compelled by law to not attempt recapture or dissuade others from leaving and blames President Lincoln's drafting efforts for their leaving. Additionally, while the law stated that enslavers loyal to the Union could get $300 compensation per enslaved person, Jacobs was listed as disloyal and could not get anyone to vouch for him in order to receive compensation. He also describes an invitation to the Constitutional Convention of 1864 and how he could not support such an endeavor and how in the next election he and other "disloyal" voters were not allowed to vote.

At the end of the volume, Jacobs lists the enslaved individuals who were freed when slavery was abolished and mentions an enslaved woman who surrendered her freedom to be "my slave for life." The last few pages of the volume transcribes a letter asking men to help build a road between the eastern and western parts of Sussex County, Delaware.

Guide to the Curtis W. Jacobs diary and account book
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-12-09: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States