Creator: Willis, J. B., b. 1851.
Collection number: 4996-z
View finding aid.
Abstract: J. B. Willis (b. 1851), a native of Delaware, was a Methodist minister and teacher at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala. Diary, 1874-1877, of J. B. Willis describes his daily activities while he was teaching at New Orleans University, an African-American school in New Orleans, La., and at a normal school in Huntsville, Ala., and also his activities and observations during trips to Texas and Mexico. Willis’s diary records his observations of New Orleans weather, social life, and public events, including parades, Mardi Gras, sessions of the Louisiana state legislature, and religious revivals.Willis described the evangelism in New Orleans of Maggie Newton Van Cott (b. 1830), the first woman licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. The diary also describes traveling by wagon, flatboat, steamer, and railroad to Texas in 1874, and people, animals, and landscape along the way. In Huntsville, Ala., Willis recorded his observations of the natural world as well as people, church services, and revivals during the year he administered a new normal school and taught a theological class.In Mexico, in December 1876, Willis described Tampico, Tuxpan, Vera Cruz, and Mexico City. In Mexico City, he reported on social occasions, tours, and day trips, including visits to Chapultepec, the Baths of Montezuma, the Guiterraz marble factory, the lava fields near Pedregal, “a very ancient pyramid of adobe bricks,” gardens, churches, private mansions, museums, and the unfinished public library.
Repository: Southern Historical Collection
Collection Highlights: Willis writes entries about preaching at African American Methodist and Baptist churches in New Orleans in the 1870s. This diary has been digitized and is available online. Click here to link to the finding aid for this collection and to access the digital content.