The Biddy Mason Collaborative is a project on the life and times of Biddy Mason (1818-1891).
Born into slavery in the Georgia cotton belt, Biddy was forcibly transported across the continent – first to Mississippi, then to Utah, and finally to southern California in the early 1850s. Although California was technically a free state, her master kept Biddy and thirteen others in bondage until 1856, when they finally won their freedom in a Los Angeles courtroom. Biddy, as a freedwoman, overcame prejudices against her race and gender to build a career in medicine and a substantial fortune in L.A. real estate. From that fortune and her generous spirit, she laid the foundations for the city’s first permanent African American community.
The project, co-directed by Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arielle Alterwaite, and Francis Russo, is made possible by grants from the University of Pennsylvania. Scroll down to learn more about this transcontinental history of slavery, freedom, and the origins of an American metropolis.