The Colored Orphans Asylum of New York (1836-1946)

There was much racial unrest in New York City, New York in the early 1800s as immigrants from across Europe and migrants from neighboring states arrived in the city. Slavery was abolished in New York state in 1827. Although black New Yorkers were free, many of their families were broken because … Read MoreThe Colored Orphans Asylum of New York (1836-1946)

Thomas Elkins (1818-1900)

An inventor, abolitionist, and trained medical professional, Dr. Thomas Elkins played a significant role in supporting the Underground Railroad in Albany, New York during the 1840s and 1850s. He also made an important contribution to the development of refrigeration techniques, and patented several inventions for other household furniture items during the latter … Read MoreThomas Elkins (1818-1900)

John Mercer Langston (1829-1897)

John Mercer Langston, the youngest of four children, was born a free black in Louisa County, Virginia on December 14, 1829. Langston gained distinction as an abolitionist, politician, and attorney.  Despite the prominence of his slaveowner father, Ralph Quarles, Langston took his surname from his mother, … Read MoreJohn Mercer Langston (1829-1897)

Willis Augustus Hodges (1815-1890)

Image Ownership: University of Virginia Special Collections Willis Augustus Hodges was born into a free black family on February 12, 1815, in Blackwater, Princess Anne County, Virginia. Both his parents were free, as well as his grandmother. His grandfather was enslaved as were his parents, but … Read MoreWillis Augustus Hodges (1815-1890)

The Edmonson Sisters (1832–1895)

Mary Edmonson (1832–1853) and Emily Edmonson (1835–1895) were enslaved African Americans who became prominent in the United States abolitionist movement after gaining their freedom. On April 15, 1848, they were among the 77 slaves who tried to escape from Washington, D.C. to New Jersey on … Read MoreThe Edmonson Sisters (1832–1895)

55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (1863-1865)

The 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was a volunteer regiment made up of men who wanted to enter the already full 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The 54th was the first officially recognized black military unit in the … Read More55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (1863-1865)

Jean-Baptiste Belley-Mars (ca. 1747-ca. 1805)

Jean-Baptiste Belley-Mars, who represented Saint-Domingue in the French National Convention in Paris in 1794, is widely credited with persuading that body to abolish slavery in France and its overseas colonies. Belley-Mars as a boy was kidnapped by slave catchers on the island of Goree near … Read MoreJean-Baptiste Belley-Mars (ca. 1747-ca. 1805)