Massy Harbison: 225 Years After Her Capture

Saturday, May 27, 2017 • 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Fort Pitt Museum
Included with Fort Pitt Museum admission | Please register in advance.

Add to Calendar05/27/2017 11:00 AM05/27/2017 03:00 PMAmerica/New_YorkMassy Harbison: 225 Years After Her CaptureJoin Fort Pitt Museum staff and volunteers for presentations on Indian Captivity, Massy’s experience, and the reader’s theater program Voices of Captivity.Fort Pitt MuseumFort Pitt MuseumfalseMM/DD/YYYY

On May 22, 1792, Massy Harbison and her children were taken captive by Indians near modern-day Freeport, Pa. After following her captors on foot towards modern-day Butler, she escaped and made her way towards Pittsburgh. Massy was discovered and rescued by fisherman on the Allegheny River on May 27, five days after her capture.

Join Fort Pitt Museum staff and volunteers for presentations on Indian Captivity, Massy’s experience, and the reader’s theater program “Voices of Captivity.”

Note: The Reader’s Theater Program is composed of 18th century Indian captivity narratives. Due to the content of some of the narratives, which include the description of violent acts, this program may not be appropriate for visitors 10 years old and younger.

Admission & Registration

This program is included with Fort Pitt Museum admission and is free for History Center members. Pre-registration is required and registration will close at the end of the day on Friday, May 26, 2017. Any remaining tickets may be purchased at the door on a first come, first served basis.

Please register online.


Program Schedule

11 a.m. to noon – An Old Strong Law and Custom: Indian Captivity on the Early American Frontier by Mike Burke, exhibit specialist at the Fort Pitt Museum

This presentation uses an array of period imagery and firsthand accounts to examine the practices warfare, captivity, and adoption among the native peoples of eastern North America. Following a brief overview of the roots of the the custom prior to European contact, discussion will focus on mid-18th century British-American frontier regions, particularly those of Pennsylvania and Virginia. The prominent roles played by the French Fort Duquesne and British Fort Pitt with regard to captives – and later attempts to repatriate them – will also be covered.

Noon to 12:30 p.m. – Massy Harbison’s Journey by Kathleen McLean, education manager at the Fort Pitt Museum

Following the American Revolution, Britain continued to occupy its forts in the Northwest Territory and support its Indian allies in suppressing American settlement further west. On May 22, 1792, Massy, her family, and her neighbors were attacked by a group of Indians. Massy was taken with two of her children and forced to march towards Indian Country. This presentation will describe her seven-day journey from capture to redemption at Fort Pitt.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Break

1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Voices of Captivity, a Readers Theater Program provided by Fort Pitt Museum staff and volunteers.

Presentation is a spoken script that combines multiple narratives into one description of the journey of captivity. Fort Pitt Museum staff and volunteers will serve as narrators as program participants listen to narratives and view period images on an accompanying power point presentation.

For more information or with questions, please contact Kathleen Lugarich at