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From Slavery to Freedom

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Presented by BNY Mellon
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Education and Cultural (URR) Program

From Slavery to Freedom Slave Ship

Explore more than 250 years of African American history in the History Center’s new exhibition, From Slavery to Freedom. The long-term exhibit, presented by BNY Mellon, highlights the history of the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Pittsburgh.

Visitors to From Slavery to Freedom will immerse themselves in the evolution of the region's African American community, embarking on a journey that begins in 18th century Africa, crosses the Atlantic Ocean on a recreated slave ship, and ends in 21st century Western Pennsylvania.

The exhibit details the unexplored history of slavery, abolitionism, and the modern struggle for freedom using artifacts, immersive museum settings, rare documents, interactive activities, and audio/video components. From Slavery to Freedom connects the region's earliest African immigrants to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s and discusses today's hopes for freedom and equality.

Highlights of the From Slavery to Freedom exhibit include:

  • Three new lifelike museum figures, including one of Martin Delany, a prominent Pittsburgh abolitionist and the highest ranking African American officer in the Union Army during the Civil War
  • Nearly 60 manumission, indenture, and freedom papers from the History Center's Detre Library & Archives recently discovered by the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds Office
  • A gourd fiddle from the 1850s, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, that was created by enslaved Africans in America
  • Several 19th century paintings that depict everyday life for African slaves, including "Slaves Waiting for Sale," by Eyre Crow, on loan from the Heinz Family Foundation
  • Touch-screen interactive activities that allows visitors to explore Pittsburgh-area safe houses along the Underground Railroad

From Slavery to Freedom has won major international awards, including American Association for State and Local History, Leadership in History Award for 2013, and African Diaspora World Tourism, Flame Keepers Award for cultural exhibition 2013.

Slaves Waiting for Sale by Eyre Crow

Martin Delany Figure

Presenting Sponsor

BNY Mellon Logo

Sponsors

U.S. Department of Education
PPG Industries Foundation

Co-Sponsors

The Pittsburgh Foundation
The Double Eagle Foundation
University of Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Contributor

African American Chamber of Commerce

Contact

For more information, photos, and events related to From Slavery to Freedom, please contact Samuel W. Black, director of African American Programs at the History Center, at 412-454-6391 or swblack@heinzhistorycenter.org.

To learn about the exhibition's Advisors and Consultants Committee members, download this document.

Events

In partnership with the exhibit, the History Center is developing a variety of public programs, educational materials, and publications with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Civil War 150, and nationally known scholars.

Saturday Speaker Series: The Paradox of American History – From Slavery to Freedom
Sat., Feb. 15, 2014 • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Senator John Heinz History Center, Multi-Purpose Room

Healthy Heritage Cooking Series, presented by UPMC Health Plan
Sat., Feb. 15, 2014 • 1 p.m.
Senator John Heinz History Center, Multi-Purpose Room

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Wed., Feb. 26, 2014 • 5:30 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Homewood Branch

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: Banished
Wed., May 14, 2014 • 5:30 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Homewood Branch

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: W.E.B. Du Bois
Wed., Aug. 20, 2014 • 5:30 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Homewood Branch

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: Ida B. Wells
Wed., Nov. 19, 2014 • 5:30 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Homewood Branch

Past Events

See our full schedule of past events.

Links and Resources

Department of Education

Projects & Resources Funded By
U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad
Educational and Cultural Program

In Pursuit of Freedom Legacy of Slavery in Maryland National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The Cooperative Underground Railroad Education Partnership

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