Last updated: March 31, 2022
Harriet Tubman Home for Aged & Indigent Negroes
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Harriet Tubman has long been known for her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her unwavering fight for abolition. As a conductor, Tubman returned to Dorchester County, Maryland thirteen times bringing North to freedom 70 of her family and friends earning her the moniker, “Moses of Her People.”
After serving the Northern Army as a scout, spy, and nurse during the Civil War, Tubman returned to her home in Auburn/Fleming, NY which she had purchased in 1859 from Frances Seward, wife of then US Senator from NY, William Seward. At her residence, Tubman cared for family members, including her aging parents, and continued her humanitarian work taking in those in need of shelter, food, clothing, and medical attention.
At the age of 74, Tubman purchased at auction a 25 acre parcel of land with numerous structures which abutted her residential property. Her hope was to establish the Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes to carry on her work, after she was gone, of caring for the old and poor in her community. When she was unable to raise funds necessary to open the facility, Tubman deeded the property to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in exchange for their opening and operating the Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes. The facility operated from 1908 until the early 1920s. Tubman herself became a patient, staying in a structure on the property called John Brown Hall which was used as the infirmary and main dormitory, until her death in 1913.
After it closed, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church held on to the property but the buildings fell into severe disrepair. In 1953, the AME Zion Church re-built one structure and opened it to the public as a museum preserving the humanitarian vision of its founder, Harriet Tubman. The property became part of Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, a partnership park between the National Park Service and the Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
A project through the Save America's Treasures Grant Program, which helps preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections, funded preservation, reconstruction and interpretation work at the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes in 2000.