Dorsey, William

William Henry Dorsey

William Henry Dorsey was born in 1837, from one of the wealthiest black Philadelphian families. His father, Thomas Dorsey, owned a large home and a catering business at 1231 Locust Street.  William Henry Dorsey was a creator and collector of paintings (mainly portraits of notable blacks), coins, autographs, catalogues, books, letters, and artifacts. The William Henry Dorsey Collection at Cheney University consists of books, manuscripts, biographical clippings, and scrapbooks. Roger Lane’s William Dorsey’s Philadelphia & Ours (1991) is mainly based on Dorsey’s records.

by Aslaku Berhanu


Lane, Roger. William Dorsey’s Philadelphia and Ours: on the Past and Future of the Black City in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Blockson, Charles L. African Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground, an Illustrated Guide. Harrisburg, PA: RB Books, 2001.