The 18th annual Underground Railroad History Conference will be held March 29-31, sponsored by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region. The theme of this year’s conference is Seeking Sanctuaty – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Programs will be held at Siena College and the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence. The program will include a variety of workshops, round tables, exhibits, vendors, an art exhibition, and raffle. Attendees are encouraged to come in period attire.
For complete information on the conference, please go to URHPCR website, at https://undergroundrailroadhistory.org/conference.
The MHAHP and Historic Hudson Valley – which runs several historic sites in Westchester County – will lead a workshop for teachers at the upcoming annual conference of the National Council for History Education. Exploring Runaway Art: New Strategies for Teaching About Enslavement, addresses the need for more teaching and learning about enslavement in American history. Workshop participants will explore 18th-century runaway slave advertisements, primary-source documents which indicate the size and scope of enslavement in the North – and also serve as documentation of acts of resistance taken by individuals in response to enslavement. Through Document analysis, critical thinking, and creative response, participants will gain confidence in engaging with this difficult but critical content.
The Runaway Artcurriculum was developed by HHV and the Center for Arts Education and has been used in dozens of New York City schools, reaching over 10,000 students. Margaret Hughes, HHV’s Associate Director of Education, and Peter Bunten of MHAHP will lead the workshop. The Annual Conference of NCHE takes place March 14-16 in Washington, DC. For the full NCHE program, go to https://www.nche.net/files/DC%20Program.pdf. The full Runaway Artcurriculum is available at Historic Hudson Valley, https://hudsonvalley.org/program/runaway-art.
Bill Jeffway, Director of the Dutchess County Historical Society, has recently reported on the results of new research on pre-Civil War African-American communities of color in the town of Milan. His report, first published by the New York State Museum in December, 2018, notes that the research led to the identification of a segregated burial ground.
Two burial grounds in Milan for African-Americans had been known prior to the current research. One location is a half-acre section in the cemetery of the adjacent town of Rhinebeck, set aside in 1853 for the burial of paupers and persons of color. A second location for burial of persons of color was found through oral history and newspaper accounts. It is located at the southeast corner of Yeoman’s cemetery. Recent research has now located a third likely burial place, known locally as “Turkey Hill”.
“To find evidence of the remains of these individuals … is challenging,” writes Mr. Jeffway, “because of the early 19th century practice … of burying persons of color not only separately, but with temporary or no markers.”
You can read the full article on Mr. Jeffway’s LinkedIn at
In early 2018, a group of educators and museum professional met to discuss the inadequacies of how the United States’ history of slavery was being taught in schools and interpreted in museums. The National Summit on Teaching Slavery, as it was called, was sponsored by James Madison’s Montpelier and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and held at Montpelier. Out of the conference came a new model for teaching about slavery:
Engaging Descendant Communities in the interpretation of slavery at museums and historic sites: A Rubric of Best Practices Established by the National Summit on Teaching Slavery.
The “Rubric,” as it is called, was issued 25 October 2018. In the words of the document, “the Rubric builds a scalable methodology that sites can utilize to rate themselves as they engage descendant communities in their work. It contains concrete steps to ensure high-quality research, make connections and maintain relationships with descendants, and create inclusive, and accurate and empathetic exhibits and programs. It gives museums a place from which to start addressing difficult themes and traumatic legacies of slavery. Most importantly, the Rubric insists sites work with descendants of the enslaved at every step to ensure that they are interpreting slavery in a manner that is effective, informative, and respectful of the experiences of the millions of men, women, and children who were enslaved.”
For more information about the Rubric, the Summit, and Montpelier, go to
Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union has provided a generous grant in support of the upcoming public program on James Tallmadge and the Missouri Crisis of 1819-1821. The program — jointly sponsored by the MHAHP, the Office of the Dutchess County Historian, and the Stanford Historical Society — will be held on Sunday, February 10th, at BANGALLWORKS, a coworking and community space, in Bangall, New York. Our featured speaker is John R. Van Atta, whose most recent book, Wolf By the Ears, is the latest analysis of this important episode in the history of slavery and antislavery reaction in the United States.
Particularly relevant is the fact that the original amendment to Missouri’s request for admission as a state — an amendment that would have banned slavery there – came from James A. Tallmadge, Jr., of Stanfordville, New York. The introduction of the amendment and the ensuing firestorm of controversy it created shows how widespread and volatile the issue of slavery was in our country at that time.
“The credit union is pleased to help sponsor this event,” said Lisa Morris, Assistant Vice President for Public Relations and Corporate Communications. “As a company committed to diversity, we’re happy to raise awareness of this important connection Dutchess County has to a historic milestone.”
The program begins at 1:30pm, and is free. The Merritt Bookstore will be selling copies of Wolf by the Ears for our speaker to sign.
Please join us!!!
Our guest speaker is John R. Van Atta, Ph.D. Mr. Van Atta is the Oaklawn Chair in American History at the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut, and is the author Wolf by the Ears: The Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821, the current defining volume on the Missouri Crisis. His other publications include Securing the West: Politics, Public Lands, and the Fate of the Old Republic, 1785-1850 and last year’s Charging Up San Juan Hill: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of Imperial America.
This program is jointly sponsored by the MHAHP, the office of the Dutchess County Historian, and the Stanford Historical Society.
Please join us for this important commemoration !!!!
A partnership of the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project, the Office of the Dutchess County Historian, and the Stanford Historical Society is planning a 2019 commemoration of a seminal event in the history of our nation … and in the history of Dutchess County.
On February 13, 1819, Congressman James A. Tallmadge, Jr., a native of the town of Stanford here in Dutchess County, introduced an amendment to the bill to admit the Missouri Territory into the Union as a state. The amendment called for the prohibition of slavery within the state and sparked a debate across the country that nearly provoked a civil war in 1820. The Tallmadge Amendment, as it came to be known, and the ensuing Missouri Crisis constitute an almost-forgotten example of Dutchess County’s impact on national and international history.
We are organizing a commemorative event for Sunday, February 10, 2019, to explore Congressman Tallmadge’s stand against slavery and the long history of Dutchess County’s fight for the abolition of slavery. The program will take place at BANGALLWORKS [site of the former Bangall Whaling Company] in the hamlet of Bangall, beginning at 1:30pm. Our presenter, Mr. John R. Van Atta, is a globally-recognized authority on the Missouri Crisis and the author of the critically-acclaimed volume Wolf by the Ears: The Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821.
The program is free. Parking will be available at the Red Devon
Peter Bunten, current Chairman of the MHAHP, spoke before the Marlborough Historical Society this past Sunday, October 28th. The session was chaired by the MHS President, John Scott. Mr. Bunten spoke of the intersection of slavery, antislavery and the Underground Railroad in the Hudson Valley, with a focus on Dutchess County. This is the second address in the past year made by MHAHP members to Ulster County historical organization, and it is the hope of MHAHP to strengthen ties between Dutchess and Ulster County history enthusiasts.
Mr. Bunten’s remarks included a look at the development of the Dutchess County economy and the subsequent growth of slavery; the key role of “self-emancipation” play by enslaved people, as evidenced through “Runaway Slave Advertisements”; the evidence for the Underground Railroad in Dutchess County; and the important role of Antislavery societies and African-American churches in the fight for the abolition of slavery.
For more information, contact Mr. Bunten at firstname.lastname@example.org.