Catto's People

Robert Purvis (1810 - 1898) & Harriet Purvis (1810-1875)

Before the term "power couple" came into use in the 20th Century, Robert and Harriet's joint and separate activist efforts are examples in the 19th century. Daughter of James Forten, Harriet was an African American abolitionist and first-generation suffragette. With Lucretia Mott, she formed the first biracial female abolition society, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Using the fortune he inherited from his father, Robert was president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and was an officer in the American Anti-Slavery Society. He and Harriet worked joined with Catto in the campaign to desegregate the Philadelphia transit system, as well as in the work of the Pennsylvania Equal Rights League. A historical marker is at Robert Purvis' last residence at 1601 Mt. Vernon Street, Philadelphia. Another historical marker honoring the Female Abolition Society stands at 5th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia in front of the U.S. Mint.