Ball, Black, & Company (American, 1851-1874)
Courtesy the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, William Allen Family Papers, Bowdoin College Library. Artwork in the public domain.
This engraved thimble, worn from use, belonged to Phebe Ann Jacobs (1785-1850). Born enslaved on the Beverwyck Plantation in New Jersey, she was sent in 1800 to Hanover, New Hampshire, to care for Maria Wheelock (1788–1828), the daughter of Dartmouth’s president, John Wheelock, and granddaughter of the plantation’s owner. When Maria married Bowdoin’s third president, William Allen, Jacobs moved with them to continue serving the family. It is unclear when Jacobs was emancipated, as slavery was outlawed in Maine after the 1780s. After Maria passed, Jacobs stayed in Brunswick, working as a seamstress and washerwoman for Bowdoin students and professors.