Inventory of a Maryland Slave Cabin

This inventory of his family's possesions was made by Adam Francis Plummer, a slave on the plantation of Charles Benedict Calvert, in November 1851, on the occasion of the sale of his wife and children, and preserved in the biography Out of the Depths or the Triumph of the Cross(1927) written by his daughter Nellie Arnold Plummer.

Granted, this inventory represents a best-case situation: Plummer was a skilled craftsman, trusted supervisor, and permitted to be literate, and on very good terms with his owner and half-brother Calvert, who apparently did not even punish him the time he tried to escape, and whom he continued to work for after emancipation. Maryland had always been slightly more liberal than the Deep South, and with the approach of the War Between the States and emancipation of the nearby District of Columbia, circumstances of slaves were changing rapidly. Still, it's difficult to reconcile anything on this list with the traditional images of American slavery.

Catalogue of Things Marked--A.P.
  1. A pair of blue stone china dishes.
  2. A pair of blue vegetable dishes.
  3. A pair of blue edged dishes.
  4. One gray gravy bowl, saucer made to bowl, with a ladel.
  5. One blue Liverpool soup tureen.
  6. A pair of blue dishes, square 7x7 inches, with tops.
  7. One flowered dish, with blue top, with names of states all around it.
  8. This beautiful pair of pitchers, flowered green and red, hold a pint or more
  9. One milk white pitcher, holds half gallon
  10. Milk white teapot. Milk white sugar bowl.
  11. Milk white cream mug. Milk white cups and saucers.
  12. One pitcher, bright blue flowers on it, hold one-half gallon.
  13. One blue flowered teapot. One blue flowered sugar bowl.
  14. One blue flowered cream mug. Blue flowered cups and saucers, one-half dozen each.
  15. Two flowered gilted pitchers.
  16. Two light blue pickle dishes.
  17. Six white cups and saucers with handles.
  18. One dozen soup plates. One large blue platter.
  19. One dozen light blue, large dinner plates.
  20. One dozen teaspoons.
  21. Eighteen every-day plates.
  22. Six knives and forks.
  23. Six wine glasses. Twelve tumblers.
  24. One dozen goblets.
  25. Two common blue soup tureens.
  26. Four salt cellars. Twelve crockware Liverpool plates.
  27. One clock. One watch. One coffee mill.
  28. One lard jar. One washstand. One washbasin. One pitcher. Two nutmeg graters.
  29. Wooden ware--Six chairs, three tubs, three buckets.
  30. Two trundle bedsteads. Two bedsteads.
  31. Four flat irons. One tea kettle. Two pots and pot-hooks.
  32. One stove. One waffle iron.
  33. One looking glass. Four pictures in frames.
  34. Four glass lamps. Two tables.
  35. Two large 2-gallon lard pots.
  36. Two feather beds. Two straw beds.
  37. Three chests or trunks, and other things.

Source: "Inventory of a Slave Cabin", Riversdale Letter, Spring 1995