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From the end of the 17th century to the early 19th century the Rev. Thomas Bray, an Anglican clergyman, and after his death in 1730 his Associates, provided books to Philadelphia and operated schools for the education of young blackPhiladelphians, both enslaved and free. Hundreds of books were sent to form the first library of Christ Church (many of which are on the shelves of the Library Company), and the schools operated by the Associates and by the Rev. Absalom Jones with their support educated countless pupils in reading, writing, and domestic arts in the era before segregated public education for the city’s African Americans began in 1818.
John C. Van Horne was the Director of the Library Company from 1985 to 2014. His doctoral dissertation was published as Religious Philanthropy and Colonial Slavery: The American Correspondence of the Associates of Dr. Bray, 1717-1777 (University of Illinois Press). He is also the author of The Education of African Americans in Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia.