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William J. Brown (1814-1883)

William J. Brown was born in 1814 into a free black family in Providence, Rhode Island. His father was a sailor and laborer and his mother was the daughter of an African-American slave and Narragansett Indian woman. William became an artisan and leader in Providence’s African-American community. His autobiography Life of William J. Brown of Providence (1883) is a valuable account of African-America life in Providence during the 19th century.

Francis J. Leazes Jr. PhD Rhode Island College