Seizing Freedom Exhibit

Artist rendering of Ona Judge by Archil Pichkhadze
Color drawing of Ona Judge

Courtesy, Harpers Ferry Center, National Park Service

Seizing Freedom Exhibit Opens at Independence Visitor Center

Independence National Historical Park tells many stories about how liberty and equality were gained in this nation. Opening on July 4 in the Independence Visitor Center, a new exhibit, Seizing Freedom, will tell the story of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia and how many people gained their liberty by taking it themselves.

Neither a railroad, nor underground, the Underground Railroad is the name given to the many ways that enslaved African Americans escaped slavery. Often operating without organization, many people, both black and white, helped enslaved African Americans seize their freedom. Philadelphia played a vital role in this national movement.

The exhibit reminds us that Independence Hall was not only where the Declaration of Independence was signed, but also the location of fugitive slave trials to free or deny liberty to African Americans. The exhibit also highlights some of the organizations, people, and places which played an important role in the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia.

This exhibit will remain on display in the Independence Visitor Center for the next year. After that time the exhibit will be permanently relocated to one of the park’s classrooms to teach school groups about this important story in our history. The park currently offers outdoor walking tours that focus upon the Underground Railroad for school groups.

This exhibit has been funded in part by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and the William Penn Foundation.. You can get more information about the Underground Railroad at the Network to Freedom website,

The park is also pleased to announce the re-print of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen’s “Narrative”. This pamphlet, first published in 1794, is one of the first publications in American produced by African Americans. The story is a compelling account of the role played by black citizens during the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in 1793.

This republished booklet is available at the Pemberton House Bookstore located at 316 Chestnut Street.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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