Women In The Abolition Movement: Historic Sites In Boston
The Boston African American National
Historic Site & Trail
Location: 14 Beacon Street, Suite 506, Boston
Open: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/boaf/
The Heritage Trail includes 15 pre-Civil War buildings relating to the history of Boston's 19th century African American community. These buildings include the African Meeting House, the Abiel Smith School, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the black Massachusetts 54th Regiment. All of the places in the National Historic Site are linked by the 1.6 mile Black Heritage Trail. Free self-guided walking tour maps are available at the Beacon Street address given above. 90-minute guided walking tours are offered daily, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, and at other times by special request (please call at least 24 hours in advance).
B2: Museum of African American History
Location: 46 Joy Street, Boston
Open: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
For more information, visit: http://www.maah.org
The Museum of African American History is New England's largest museum dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and conservation of the contributions of African Americans from the Colonial Period through the 19th Century.
B3: African Meeting House
Location: 8 Smith Court, Boston, part of the Museum of Afro-American History
Open: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m
For more information, visit: http://www.afroammuseum.org/
Built in 1806, the African Meeting House is the oldest known Black church in America. The Meeting House was a popular place for African Americans to gather and many abolitionists attended church and antislavery meetings there. Maria Stewart (1803-1879), an outspoken abolitionist and feminist who promoted themes of racial uplift and female equality wherever she went, attended church there. A speech she gave at the Meeting House made her one of the first women in the nation to speak publicly against slavery and for female equality.
The African-American Female Intelligence Agency, founded in 1831, conducted its business at the Meeting House too. Women created the Agency as a literary and mutual aid society where they sponsored lectures and educational services for the moral and social uplift of their community. Through membership fees and agency dues, the Agency provided health insurance and other relief to those who needed help in their community, particularly for escaped and freed slaves. Stewart was one of the numerous women active with the Agency.
B4: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market
There is an historic marker on the site commemorating the site's history
Open: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun: noon - 6 p.m.
For more information, visit: http://www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com/
Faneuil Hall and the adjoining Quincy Market are the historic locations of Boston's women's fairs and protest meetings. Among the more famous are the Anti-Slavery Bazaars, sponsored by the Female Anti-Slavery Societies, which were held there in the 1830s and 1840s. Two of the other major societies that used the venue were the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem, organized by free African American women in 1832, and the American Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1833, with people like Abby Kelly, Lydia Maria Child, Lucretia Mott, Maria Weston Chapman, Margaret Jones Burleigh, Mary Grew, and Sarah Pugh as members.
B5: Federal Street Church
Location: 100 Federal Street, Boston, however the building no longer exists at this site - it moved to 355 Boylston St. and became the Arlington Street Church. There is an historical marker on Boylston St. about the history of the church.
For more information, visit: http://www.ascboston.org/about/building.html
Numerous abolitionists, such as Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1885), attended the Federal Street Church in the first half of the 19th century. Chapman was a founder of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society and ran 22 annual antislavery fairs in Boston. She published several influential antislavery pamphlets, including How Can I Help Abolish Slavery? and Right and Wrong in Massachusetts. A feminist, Chapman also supported women's full participation in abolitionist work, including public speaking, which had been condemned by Congregational ministers in Massachusetts. In 1840, Chapman was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society.
Another member of the Federal Street congregation was Eliza Lee Cabot Follen (1787-1860). Follen was best known for her anti-slavery writings such as Anti-Slavery Hymns and Songs and A Letter to Mothers in Free States. In A Letter, Follen wrote, "what can we mothers do? ... everything; I repeat, you can abolish slavery. Let every mother take the subject to heart, as one in which she has a personal concern. In the silence of the night, let her listen to the slave-mothers crying to her for help...."
B6: Julia Ward and Samuel Gridley Howe House
Location: 13 Chestnut St., Boston, building is not open to the public
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) and Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876) were abolitionists and humanitarians who lived in this house from 1863 to 1866. Outspoken about ending slavery, Julia was the first president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association. Later she became the first president of the American Branch of the Women's International Peace Association. Howe is also famous for writing the poem that became the hymn the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
B7: Harriet and Lewis Hayden, Ellen and William Craft
Location: 66 Phillips Street, Boston, Building is not open to the public
Former slaves Harriet (1816-1893) and Lewis Hayden (1815-1889) were heavily involved with the abolition movement. Their house became an important station on the Underground Railroad and is the most documented one in Boston. Two of the many fugitive slaves who stayed there were Ellen Craft (1826-1897) and her husband, William. When they escaped in 1848, Craft disguised herself as her master, bandaged as if ill, and tended to by her husband as if he were her slave. They escaped in their disguises from Georgia by taking the train and steamer to Boston, where they stayed with the Haydens, and joined the abolition movement.
After the Civil War, Harriet Hayden, her husband died in battle, continued advocating for African Americans, and, in the late 19th century, she bequeathed a scholarship for "needy and worthy colored students" at Harvard Medical School.
B8: Harriet Tubman House and United South End Settlements
Location: 566 Columbus Ave., Boston
Open: Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
For more information, visit: http://www.uses.org/home.html
This site honors Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), one of the most famous abolitionists and Underground Railroad activists. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped in 1839, but she went back to slave territory nineteen times to lead over three hundred slaves to freedom. This building was the first settlement house built in the United States (1891), named after her to honor her bravery. In addition to housing a day care center and other services, the Harriet Tubman House has photos and exhibits about Harriet's life on display.
B9: Harriet Tubman Park
Location: Columbus Ave. & Warran St, Boston
Harriet Tubman Park is also dedicated to the memory of the brave abolitionist. The focus of the park is a 10-foot bronze sculpture honoring the famous "conductor" of the Underground Railroad. The statue is the first located on city-owned property honoring a woman and was sculpted by Fern Cunningham, an African American woman from New York.
B10: Home for Aged Colored Females
Location: 22 Hancock Street, Boston, building is not open to the public
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1860, abolitionists opened a home for elderly ex-slave women and free Bostonian Black women. The home was originally on Beacon Hill but was moved to this site in 1901 and stayed open through the 1920s, providing numerous women with a safe, comfortable place to live.
B11: Howard Athenaeum
Location: Pemberton Square (formerly Scollay Square), no longer at site; the building burned to the ground in 1961 and there is no historic marker designating the site.
Sarah Parker Remond, an international antislavery lecturer, made her first act of public resistance at the Howard Athenaeum. In 1853, Remond purchased tickets by mail for a performance at the Howard, but when she arrived on the night of the performance, the theater would not allow her to sit in the seats she had paid for and tried to force her to sit in the segregated gallery. She refused, left, sued the theater, and won $500 in damages. In 1856, she became an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and, from 1856 to 1865, she frequently lectured in the United States and England on the evils of slavery and segregation.
B12: The Liberator Office Site
Location: 12 Post Office Square, the building is no longer at site, but there is an historic marker commemorating the former office.
In 1831, leading Boston abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) started the antislavery paper The Liberator on this site. The Liberator became the most influential abolitionist paper in America. Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1885), a founder of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, was Garrison's chief assistant, helping him run the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, edit The Liberator, and edit the Non-Resistant, the publication of Garrison's New England Non-Resistant Society. Maria Stewart (1803-1879), an outspoken advocate of African American self-determination and vindication, had many of her speeches and advertisements for her lectures published in The Liberator. The paper's office moved
to Cornhill in 1834 and, unfortunately,
the Great Fire of 1872 destroyed the building.