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Tours and Events

Calendar 2016

Walk through history in Florence

Martin Luther King Day Walk – Monday, January 18, 2016 at 9 am

The American Friends Service Committee’s 32nd annual Martin Luther King Day of Celebration begins with a walking tour of Florence.  Walk the African-American history trail in Florence and see Sojourner Truth’s house, abolitionist sites and the site of the 19th century utopian community in Florence.  We will explain what brought a progressive group of people to Florence in the 19th century,  how they influenced Florence’s development and what happened to those innovative and progressive people. Followed by Ousmane Power-Greene’s Martin Luther King Children’s Program at the Florence Civic Center at 10:30 am.

Meet at the Sojourner Truth Statue at the corner of Park and Pine streets in Florence at 9 am.

Basil Dorsey Day: Remembrance of Our Past – Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 2 pm

Bambi Miller and Mary Boehmer of Charlemont present Remembrance of Our Past in recognition of Basil Dorsey, a self-emancipated slave and teamster born in Libertytown, in Frederick County, Maryland who settled in Florence.

Meet at the David Ruggles Center, 225 Nonotuck Street, Florence at 2 pm.

Northampton Association Walking Tour – Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 10 am

Walk sites relating to the Northampton Association of Education & Industry, the utopian community founded in Florence on April 8, 1842.

Meet at the Sojourner Truth Statue at the corner of Park and Pine streets in Florence at 10 am.

Women’s History Walking Tour of Florence – Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 10 am

Meet at the Sojourner Truth Statue at the corner of Park and Pine streets in Florence at 10 am.

Sojourner Truth Walking Tour of Florence – Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 12 noon

Walk the African-American history trail in Florence and see Sojourner Truth’s house, abolitionist sites and the site of the 19th century utopian community in Florence.  We will explain what brought a progressive group of people to Florence in the 19th century, how they influenced Florence’s development and what happened to those innovative and progressive people.  This annual tour is held prior to the annual Sojourner Truth Memorial Celebration at 2 pm.

Meet at the Sojourner Truth Statue at the corner of Park and Pine streets in Florence at 12 noon.

Park Street Cemetery Tour – Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 10 am

Meet at the Park Street Cemetery in Florence (opposite Lilly Library) at 10 am.

From Levellers Press

Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts
by Robert H. Romer

In this first history of slavery in western Massachusetts in colonial times, Robert H. Romer demonstrates that slavery was pervasive in the Pioneer Valley in the 1700s, where many of the ministers and other “important people” owned black slaves.  To show the role of slavery in the valley, Professor Romer presents a “snapshot” of slavery, choosing a moment (1752) and a place (the main street of Deerfield) to present detailed information about the slaves who lived in that place at that time – and their owners. Working largely from original sources – wills, probate inventories, church records, and merchants’ account books – he shows that slavery was much more significant than had previously been thought. Some twenty-five slaves belonging to fifteen different owners lived on that mile-long street in 1752. He emphasizes that these were individuals, some born in Africa, some born as slaves in New England, forced to live their lives as property, always subject to being sold away at the whim of an owner.

Deerfield is used simply as an example – slavery was pervasive throughout the valley. In other chapters he treats – in less detail – other towns in the valley.  He also gives a brief history of slavery in Massachusetts, from its beginnings in the 1630s until its gradual end in the final decades of the 1700s and then discusses how in the following centuries New Englanders for the most part managed to forget that slavery had ever existed here.

His work brings out of obscurity the many black slaves who lived in the valley, the invisible men and women of our colonial past.