Preface (3)

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Receive this faint token of respect with care,
As your kindness doth merit the same,
I am gratified in being able to share,
This tribute you’ll never call fame.
Philada Jan’y 28. 1845

This brief entry composed by an unidentified author is dense for interpretation about the genre and purpose of friendship albums. This poem facilitates analysis about how friendship albums served as a means of communication among members of the antebellum black bourgeoisie. The use of the word “fame” raises questions about whether or not the album was meant for widespread distribution. The contributor’s use of the phrase “faint token” rather than the more familiar one “small token” is curious given its connotation with vagueness as opposed to brevity. The word “share” provides insight on how contributors would engage with the album. Would they only be adding to the album, or would they also be reading other’s entries?

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