Harriet Tubman's Boston: 1905

The following article is part of a series exploring Harriet Tubman's deep connections to Boston, highlighting several key moments, people, and places that illustrate her long relationship with the city and its community. To learn more, visit Harriet Tubman's Boston.

Newspaper clipping of a portrait of Harriet Tubman and the Headline "Shaw's Nurse at Memorial."
Harriet Tubman visited the Shaw 54th Memorial during her last trip to Boston.

Boston Herald, May 31, 1905

"Dropped a Silent Tear for the Departed Dead."

The Robert Gould Shaw/54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial

In what appears from newspaper records to be her last visit to Boston, Tubman traveled to the city in the spring of 1905. She attended an opening reception for the Harriet Tubman Christian Temperance Union at Parker Memorial Hall.1 She also visited the Harriet Tubman House at 37 Holyoke Street.2 According to a local newspaper in 1909, The Tubman House provided a "temporary safe haven for the young Negro girls arriving in this city from the South" and had been "established and maintained by the colored citizens (with the aid and under the patronage of South End House)."3

Tubman also attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the Robert Gould Shaw/54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial. The Boston Globe reported that Tubman "was the central figure at the Robert G. Shaw memorial yesterday." It continued:

As she stood and gazed on the youthful features tears came to her eyes. She turned and said to those near her: "That looks like him [Shaw] the last morning I saw him. He was killed that night. That morning I gave him his last breakfast. This is the first time I have seen the monument close to. I was here when they unveiled it, but the crowd was then so big. I went back to Auburn, but made up my mind to see it again some time."4

The Boston Herald reported that Tubman stood at the memorial "bent with the weight of years" and "gazed long and tenderly on the magnificent work of the sculptor and dropped a silent tear for the departed dead."5

While at the ceremony, Tubman also had the chance to "to renew her acquaintance with the boys of the 54th" that she had worked alongside during the war.6


1. Boston Journal, May 24, 1905, 6.

2. Boston Evening Transcript, June 5, 1905, 5.

3. Boston Evening Transcript, June 2, 1909, 21.

4. Boston Globe, May 31, 1905, 7.

5. Boston Herald, May 31, 1905, 5.

6. Boston Globe, May 31, 1905, 7.

Boston African American National Historic Site

Last updated: May 17, 2022