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Central Pennsylvania's journey
from enslavement to freedom
Link to Enslavement in Pennsylvania section. Link to the Anti-Slavery and Abolition Section.

Link to the Free Persons of Color -- 19th Century History Section.

Link to the Underground Railroad Section.
link to The Violent Decade Section Link to the US Colored Troops Section
Link to Harrisburg's Civil War Section Link to Century of Change -- the 20th Century Section
Link to the Letters Archive Link to Read The Year of Jubilee

Site News

Just uploaded--"Port of Philadelphia Slave Manifests." Including fascinating stories about the Ganges Families, an enslaved woman who sucessfully sued a Texas slaveholder for her and her two sons' freedom, and scandal, suicides and ghost stories. Check it all out here: Philadelphia Slave Manifests.

New Section--"Former Slaves." News items about formerly enslaved African American residents. Check it out here:
News headline of death of formerly enslaved person.

Newly restored: Photos and video from Harrisburg's 2010 "Grand Review of Colored Troops." Check it out here:
African American Civil War re-enactors parade on Front Street.  USCT Re-enactor at the Harris-Cameron mansion.

Featured Links

  • Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds The mission of the Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds (PAHG) is to honor, interpret, and preserve African American cemeteries and the burial sites of Civil War African American Sailors and United States Colored Troops in Pennsylvania.

In the News

  • Penn Live Article on the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Y  Read Joe McClure's column on the history of Harrisburg's Phyllis Wheatley branch of the YWCA, established to serve Harrisburg's African American women and girls. Includes profiles of Maude Coleman, Ella Frazier and Sara-Alyce Wright.


On This Date

November events important to local African American history (see the whole year)

November 1, 1910: A new publication, The Crisis, edited by W.E.B. DuBois, makes its appearance.

November 2, 1836: American Anti-slavery Society lecturer Jonathan Blanchard lectures in the town of Dauphin.

November 3, 1836: American Anti-slavery Society lecturer Jonathan Blanchard lectures in the town of Halifax.

November 4. 1836: American Anti-slavery Society lecturer Jonathan Blanchard lectures in the town of Millersburg.

November 4. 2008: Barack Obama is elected as the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold the office.

November 5, 1968: Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African American woman elected to Congress.

November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected sixteenth president of the United States.

November 7, 1775: Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, issues a proclamation promising freedom to slaves who would run away from rebel owners to fight for the British army. Several thousand would do so, including some from the Harrisburg area.
A detailed discussion of Lord Dunmore's Proclamation may be found here.

November 7, 1837: Elijah Lovejoy is murdered at Alton, Illinois and becomes a martyr for abolitionists.

November 8, 1775: Titus, a man enslaved by John Corlies of Monmouth County, New Jersey, escapes to start his own guerilla fight against local plantations in the name of the British. Known as Colonel Tye, he led a mixed race band of fighters, based in the cedar swamps of New Jersey, against Continental forces from July 1779 until his death from wounds in September 1780.
Read more about Colonel Tye here.

November 8, 1938: Crystal Bird Fauset is elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, becoming the first African American woman to serve in a state house of representatives.

November 10, 1983:
Wilson Goode is elected as the first African American mayor of Philadelphia.

November 11, 1836: American Anti-slavery Society lecturer Jonathan Blanchard speaks at Harrisburg’s Masonic Hall. The lecture is attended by local attorney Charles C. Rawn, who begins to reconsider his anti-abolitionist views.

November 14, 1849: Martin R. Delany arrives in Harrisburg to deliver lectures over the next five days. He stayed with John F. and Hannah Williams after discovering that no local hotel would rent a room to a black man.

November 14, 1865: Harrisburg welcomes the United States Colored Troops home, hosting a large parade, reception and public dinner. This Grand Review of Colored Troops featured speeches by William Howard Day, Simon Cameron, J. C. White and Octavius Catto. T. Morris Chester was Master of Ceremonies.
Modern Harrisburg commemorated this event in 2010. View photos of the event here.
November 16, 1877: Lincoln Cemetery in Harrisburg is dedicated as the burial ground for Wesley Union A.M.E. Church. Burials from the old cemetery, located at Boas and Rose Streets, began the following week.
Learn more about Harrisburg's Lincoln Cemetery here.

November 17, 1846: Trial in Gettysburg of infamous slave catcher and kidnapper Thomas Finnegan results in his conviction for kidnapping. He is sentenced to five year in Eastern Penitentiary, but is pardoned in June 1848 by Governor Francis R. Shunk due to failing health.

November 23, 1803: Abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld is born in Hampton, Connecticut.


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