Sarah Louisa Forten Purvis (1814-1883)

Born 1814 in Philadelphia, Sarah Louisa Forten was a writer, poet, and abolitionist. Like all of James Forten’s daughters, Sarah was educated in private schools and by private tutors. The Forten daughter’s studied French, art, and music and grew up reading European literature.

Sarah and her sisters were members of the Female Literary Association; a Philadelphia based African American women’s literary group founded in 1831, which purpose was the “mental improvement in moral and literary pursuits” of its members. It was through these types of organizations that Sarah’s writing and speaking was nurtured.

As an abolitionist writer and poet, Sarah’s poems were widely read and distributed throughout the abolitionist movement, and her poem “The Grave of the Slave” was published in William Lloyd Garrison’s the Liberator newspaper.

Sarah Louisa Forten married Joseph Purvis, the brother of famed abolitionist Robert Purvis, and the husband of Sarah’s sister Harriet Forten Purvis.

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