Saturday, December 26, 2015

Who Would They Be in the Future? Addy

It takes me a very long time to write the future predictions for the characters and I'm sorry for that. Unfortunately, they take up quite a bit of my time because I don't want to throw just anything together. I want the predictions to be fairly plausible with enough detail that people reading might learn something about the time period under discussion.

And of course I'm always learning. None of us are truly experts at things-more information comes to light or is brought to our attention. History is my passion and I spend a lot of time reading biographies and books about the lives of women (currently reading Stacy Schiff's new book on the Salem Witchcraft Trials). But despite my life long interest in the subject, I still learn.

For example, my understanding of life expectancy has become a bit more nuanced. Neth from American Girl Outsider pointed out to me after my Felicity and Elizabeth prediction that I was using life expectancy statistics that predicted life expectancy at birth. Since a major factor in low life expectancy in the past was child mortality (which is defined as children dying before the age of 5), that statistic wouldn't really apply to Felicity and Elizabeth who we know were 9 at the start of the series. Therefore the dismal life expectancy of 36 doesn't really factor in. In other words, while it is plausible (if depressing) that Baby Polly died very soon after the story wrapped up, that wouldn't have such an impact on Felicity and Elizabeth.

If you look at my predictions for Molly and Emily, I did use statistics applying to 10 year olds. I used the statistic correctly. I can't remember, but I believe that the figures for ten year olds weren't available for 1774. I have spent plenty of time searching for that information and I can't see to locate a reliable figure-I would argue that Felicity and Elizabeth could have expected to see their 40s or 50s.

Still, life expectancy was shorter for reasons other than child mortality. For example, a child of 5 (so past the child mortality border) in 1845 was expected to live to age 55. Today, a 5 year old can expect to live to age 82-27 years is nothing to scoff at! (Of course these changes are not equal around the world-there are places where child mortality is still very high.)

So my point is that I take time to do these because I want them to be useful-once I have completed a bunch, I may go back and edit all of them with the information I learned so that people finding them for the first time can get more use out of them. Additionally as I read more of the books for each character (I have read the core series for each character, but not always the all of the additional material such as the short stories or mysteries) more information might come to life.

So please always view these predictions as works in progress! I would rather release these in a timely manner and edit later than stress out over every detail (as a person with a type A personality, I would never publish them if I didn't give myself the option of editing).

I'm also becoming better at blogging in general-I have learned how to insert a jump break for example, and I have come up with a better format for my item reviews-so it will all get better in time.

A lot of the information I take for the series comes from the "Welcome to ______'s World"-except Samantha and Nellie because I don't have a copy of Welcome to Samantha's World yet. I also use the Internet (I do use Wikipedia but I also try and include a more reliable source that backs up the information I find there though that doesn't always happen-and I do believe that Wikipedia is a fine place to obtain information in general unless you are doing a legitimate research paper or something), other books in my personal history collection (a book about Ida B. Wells became part of the inspiration for Harriet's future), and my own education. Obviously, I let the plot line and character dictate how her story will go. I just wanted to give you a glimpse into my process for writing these.

Anyways, on to Addy!


From the very start, Addy valued her education and wanted to become a teacher. She quickly learned to read-which is no mean feat when you're already nine, so obviously Addy is a very smart girl-and worked hard to help her mother learn as well. The Walkers also worked hard to keep Addy in school while other children like Sarah had to drop out to help their families stay economically afloat (remember that, in Changes for Addy, Sarah asks Mrs. Ford for paper to line her boots because her family could not afford new ones).

Along with Harriet, Addy was accepted to the Institute for Colored Youth (henceforth I'll be using the abbreviation I.C.Y.) in the spring of 1866 because of the recommendation of Miss Dunn. She was well on her way to achieving her goal of becoming a teacher. She was able to do this because of the sacrifices her family made to come up with the annual attendance fee.

Philadelphia Department of Archives
This is the second location at 915 Bainbridge Street.

The I.C.Y. was founded by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker who left a tenth of his wealth to create a school for African Americans. His goal was that the students of the I.C.Y. would go on to become teachers, thereby spreading education. The organization was founded in 1837 and at first they trained African American students in trades-like agriculture. However by 1852 the Managers (the group of Quakers running the Institute) decided to return to the original plan and train teachers. The first one was at 716-718 Lombard Street in Philadelphia.

Even though the I.C.Y. was ran by the Quaker Managers, the staff was all black. In 1869, Fanny Jackson Coppin became the first African American principal in history as the principal of the I.C.Y.

The staff focused on providing an advanced, classical education to the male and female students they taught. In 1861, they moved to a larger facility at 915 Bainbridge Street-this was the building Addy and Harriet would have gone to.

Addy and Harriet both studied hard at the I.C.Y.-Addy's favorite subject was literature. Afterwards, Addy traveled back to North Carolina to teach. Her family, fearing for her safety, tried to convince her not to go to the South. But Addy was brave and knew that she had trained for this, and that it was time for her to pay it back.

At first, Addy did not even have a building to teach in. She taught the children (and sometimes adults-at times, entire families would come at the same time) outside. It was very hard, as she did not have much money for supplies. Students came and went-as the children of sharecroppers, they often had responsibilities that prevented them from attending on a consistent basis. Yet Addy kept teaching on, knowing she was doing the right thing. She knew that an education was the key to success. Eventually things became easier after she converted a barn into a school room.

After marrying a fellow teacher and I.C.Y. graduate named Thomas, Addy retired from teaching and went back to Philadelphia to start her family-while she was willing to risk her safety, she was not willing to raise her children in the South where their lives would be led in fear of the Ku Klux Klan founded in 1865 and where their days would be dictated by the infamous black codes. Yes, the North was still a hard place for an African American family to live, but it was much better than the South.

Back in Philadelphia, Addy became an active member of her church while her husband continued to teach. She had six children (Solomon, Sarah, Lula, Benjamin, Thomas, and Ruth)-Sam went to Fisk University in Tennessee. Addy was very proud of the life that her family had built.

Addy's parents, now married in the way they wished, had a happy life surrounded by their children and later their grandchildren. They did eventually get their own house outside of a boarding house. They often told their grandchildren about their life as slaves, something Addy herself had a hard time doing.

Mrs. Ford stayed in touch with the Walkers until she passed away-time did not mellow her sternness.    

Esther, Addy's baby sister who insisted that she wanted to be just like Addy, also went to the I.C.Y. She traveled west to Kansas where she worked as a teacher for the children of the "Exodusters." Exodusters were African Americans who went west as a way of founding their own communities. After marrying, she remained out west in the community she had found.

Harriet, after graduating from the I.C.Y., married into further wealth and became a writer, submitting opinion pieces to African American owned newspapers. After some time, she eventually bought her own small newspaper in Philadelphia. She was known as a stylish, elegant, opinionated lady. Despite their earlier differences, Addy and Harriet remained life long friends-and competitors. Addy thought Harriet was very brave for publishing such controversial material; secretly, Harriet thought Addy was braver for going South to teach. When Harriet died, just as opinionated as ever, Addy was extremely bereaved.

Sam worked hard to catch up on his studies. It was a long shot, since he was so far behind, but he decided that he wanted to become a pastor. He knew that the church was the major hub of African American society.

And Sarah? Sarah worked for a time as a laundress, something she hated doing. Sam was not yet a pastor and was wondering what exactly he would do to support himself since no one seemed inclined to hire a man missing an arm-working as a stablehand was hard work and not something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. While Addy was in North Carolina, Sarah spent much of her time with the Walker family. She and Sam became very close as time went on and eventually he asked her to marry him. She agreed, and continued to work as a laundress until he became a pastor. At that point, she happily stopped working and led a very active life as the wife of the pastor. She ran charities and socials and never touched laundry again. Sarah and Addy remained best friends of course, and Addy was thrilled that they were now family.


Addy died in 1910, happy and optimistic about the future of black people in America.

Further Reading:

On life expectancy:

On Addy and the time period in general:

Welcome to Addy's World by Susan Sinnott. I cannot stress enough how interesting these books are.

They Say: Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race by James West Davidson

On the Institute for Colored Youth:


  1. Brava! I love those Welcome to "Girl's Name" World books, wish they'd done some for Julie, Rebecca, Marie/Cecile, Caroline, and Mary Ellen. Course I bet some of those books would be giving some people the fits.

    1. The Maryellen book (based on how her story was presented) would almost certainly steer very clear of race issues in the 1950s-I think Ellie as a character (and as a doll) but they were wearing thick nostalgia glasses for her! Can you imagine a book like that for the rumored Melody character though? That would be awesome!

    2. Yeah. I think they did good with summing up how fucked up the attitude towards women and Italians were but there were nostalgia goggles (Rock n Roll was a controversial form of music back then and I bet the idea of children performing it would've gave some Moral Guardians the fits).

    3. My favorite moment was when Ellie's mom was angry because Ellie's dad just bought an RV out of the blue-that was so aggravating. But yeah-Rock and Roll was not something parents would have been jumping all over. But hey-it was the perfect 1950s, when there was no racism and women stayed home and children respected their elders. Gag.

      By the way, weird question, but who is your icon? It's been bugging me because I recognize her but I can't put my finger on it!

    4. Ginger Foutley from "As Told By Ginger" one of my fave shows growing up : )