Manumission paper and holder

In the days before the Civil War, black freedmen in Maryland often faced the unpleasant necessity of having to prove they were not slaves; the way to do that was to be sure to have your manumission paper -- a document that said you were free -- on hand at all times. Isaac Dorsey, who lived in Anne Arundel County and became a free man in 1859, kept his paper in a metal holder he made himself, one of the prized possessions of Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture.
Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun
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