Bibliography for Mary Ellen Pleasant and Geneva Cottage

Bibliography and Biographical Summaries for main article

“Mary Ellen Pleasant in Ingleside: Stories of Geneva Cottage”


Beasley, Delilah, The Negro Trailblazers of California, Los Angeles: Times Mirror Printing and Binding House, 1919.

Cliff, Michelle, Free Enterprise, New York: Penguin Books, 1993.

Daniels, Henry Douglas, Pioneer Urbanites: A Social and Cultural History of Black San Francisco, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980.

Ethington, Philip J, The Public City: The Political Construction of Urban Life in San Francisco, 1850-1900, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Holdredge, Helen, Mammy Pleasant, New York: Ballantine Books, 1953 (reprint 1972).

Hudson, Lynn M, The Making of “Mammy Pleasant”: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco, Urbana IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

King, Woodie (ed.), The National Black Drama Anthology: Eleven Plays from America’s Leading African American Theaters, New York: Applause Books, 1995.

Lapp, Rudolph M, Blacks in Gold Rush California, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.

Thurman, Sue Bailey, Pioneers of Negro Origin in California, San Francisco: Acme Publishing Company, 1971.

Papers and articles

Bell, Howard H, “Negroes in California, 1849-1859,” Phylon, 2nd Qtr. 1967, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp 151-160.

Bennett, Lerone Jr, “A Historical Detective Story: Mystery of Mary Ellen Pleasant,” Ebony, April 1979 (pp 90-96) and May 1979 (pp 71-86). Read online: Part I Part II, (Link does not go to first page of the article; go to drop-down menu at upper right, and chose PAGE 71.)

Conrich, J Lloyd, “The Mammy Pleasant Legend,” unpublished manuscript, California Historical Society.

Fisher, James A, “the Struggle for Negro Testimony in California, 1851-1863,” Southern California Quarterly, Dec 1969, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 313-324.

—–, “The Political Development of the Black Community in California, 1850-1950,” California Historical Quarterly, sep. 1971, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 256-266.

Foster, Lois M, “Annals of the San Francisco Stage, 1850-1880,” Vol. 1.

Hudson, Lynn M, “Entertaining Citizenship: Masculinity and Minstrelsy in Post-Emancipation San Francisco,” The Journal of African American History , Spring, 2008, Vol. 93, No. 2, Discourses on Race, Sex, and African American Citizenship (Spring, 2008), pp. 174-197.

Siebert, Wilbur H, “The Underground Railroad in Massachusetts,” American Antiquarian Society, April 1935, pp 25-10.

Yates-Richard, Meina , “‘In the Wake’ of the ‘Quake: Mary Ellen Pleasant’s Diasporic Hauntings” American Studies, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2019, pp. 37-57.

Periodicals and databases

San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Call

The Elevator

The Pacific Appeal

Daily Alta California

Oakland Tribune

“California, San Francisco County Records, 1824-1997,” database with images, Land and Property Records > Deed Index, Vol. 87, A-Z, 1885 > image 1 of 142; San Francisco Public Library, California. Accessed through

“California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1835-1979,” database with images, San Francisco (San Francisco); San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco History and Archive Center. Accessed through

San Francisco Directories, 1850-1983, San Francisco Public Library. Accessed through

US Census databases, 1820-1900. Accessed through

Biographical Summaries

  • Mary Ellen Pleasant (1814 Pennsylvania – 1904 San Francisco)
  • Mary Alexander (1797 NY – 1871 SF)
  • Harvey S Brown (1827 NY – 1911 SF)
  • Sully Cox (1806 VA – 1883 KY)
  • George Bailey Gammans (1828 ME – 1878 ME)
  • Sarah Green (1830c PA – after 1880)
  • John William Howard (1856 OH – 1916? CA)
  • Indiana (‘India’) Howard (1857 OH – 1935 Alameda)
  • Rebecca Jane Howard Gordon Boone (1854 OH – 1917 Alameda)
  • Elizabeth Jones Smith Phillips Peck (1845 MA – 1878 SF)
  • Robert Morse Park (1846 PA – 1889 SF)
  • Susannah Jessie Westwood Park (1852 England – 1942 SF)
  • Rasberry (“RB”) Phillips (1822c MD – 1868 SF)
  • John James Pleasants (1819c VA – 1877 SF)
  • Aaron White (1810c – 1863 Canada)