The David Ruggles Center for History and Education

The David Ruggles Center for History and Education Along with the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee (http://bit.ly/2pUx1QL) we attempt to fight racism by honoring and documenting the lives of the trailblazers that came before us.
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The David Ruggles Center for History and Education Several strands of history meet in the oldest section of Florence, Massachusetts down by the Mill River, on Nonotuck Street, Spring Street, Florence Road and Lower Meadow Street. Here the Northampton Association of Education and Industry was established in the 1840s by a group of radical abolitionists. David Ruggles--the country's first African American bookseller, founding secretary of New York City's Vigilance Committee, assistant to over 600 fugitive slaves including Frederick Douglass--joined them in 1842. Here he established one of the first hydropathic hospitals in the country in 1846 and lived his remaining three years in the village that would become Florence in 1852. We name our education center in his honor and dedicate it to remembering this "utopian" attempt at founding a society of equal rights and social justice. We explore the growth of the factory village they created which continued as a center of abolitionism through the Civil War. We trace its emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse whose institutions continued to reflect the progressive ideals of the founders.

Mission: The David Ruggles Center for History and Education honors the contributions made to the abolition of slavery by courageous individuals in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. Our location in the village of Florence within Northampton commemorates those who came here to challenge slavery, live in freedom, and establish a community based on principles of race, gender, class, and religious equality. We seek to educate and inspire our visitors to possibilities in the present by sharing these powerful voices from the past.

The David Ruggles Center will have two “Reservations Only” Second Sunday, Safely Distanced Walking Tours this summer, th...
08/09/2020

The David Ruggles Center will have two “Reservations Only” Second Sunday, Safely Distanced Walking Tours this summer, the first is on Sunday August 9th; the 2nd will be held on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Come learn the history of the radical abolitionist who settled the village of Florence. We will meet at the Sojourner Truth Memorial statue at 10am both days. The tours are out of doors and for a strictly limited number of people. Masks are required. Social distancing will be observed as well! Please email Tom Goldschieder for [email protected]

Just an amazingly timely and important story. Royall House is a most generous and meticulous sharer of history—just chec...
08/09/2020
60 enslaved people once toiled for a rich landowner in Medford. Kyera Singleton wants you to know who they were - The Boston Globe

Just an amazingly timely and important story. Royall House is a most generous and meticulous sharer of history—just check out their posts. Here's their gofundme campaign: https://bit.ly/3fGWcyB

In the midst of the pandemic, Kyera Singleton landed a new job, becoming the executive director of the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, believed to be the last standing structure of its kind in the Northern United States.

08/01/2020

Live on Self Evident Media now!

Tomorrow morning, Saturday, 1 August 2020. 10am. Facebook Live. From the David Ruggles Center for History & Education. F...
08/01/2020

Tomorrow morning, Saturday, 1 August 2020. 10am. Facebook Live. From the David Ruggles Center for History & Education. Follow the link below!!! With Ousmane Power-Greene

Seeing Black citizens excluded from libraries in NYC, David Ruggles started a reading room in his grocery store, expandi...
07/17/2020
The First Black-Owned Bookstore and the Fight for Freedom | JSTOR Daily

Seeing Black citizens excluded from libraries in NYC, David Ruggles started a reading room in his grocery store, expanding it in 1834 to become the country's first African American bookseller. After coming to Northampton, MA we find him purchasing bulk orders of Frederick Douglass' Narrative in 1845 for distribution here. (Letters from an American Utopia, p 118)

Black abolitionist David Ruggles opened the first Black-owned bookstore in 1834, pointing the way to freedom—in more ways than one.

Museum of African American History - Boston and Nantucket
06/28/2020

Museum of African American History - Boston and Nantucket

Prince Hall is remembered as the founder of African American free masonry. Over the years, he led or joined efforts to end slavery in Massachusetts, fought to achieve free public education for African American children, and protested the slave trade. In June 1797, Hall addressed the African Lodge in Boston; he urged members to sympathize with their fellow man and fight for liberty.

"...it is our duty to sympathise with our fellow men under their troubles... Among these numerous sons and daughters of distress, I shall begin with our friends and brethren; and first, let us see them dragg'd from their native country, by the iron hand of tyranny and oppression, from their dear friends and connections, with weeping eyes and aching hearts, to a strange land and strange people, whose tender mercies are cruel; and there to bear the iron yoke of slavery & cruelty till death as a friend shall relieve them."

Read the full charge here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N24354.0001.001/1:2?rgn=div1;view=fulltext

After his death in 1807, the name of his lodge was changed to “The Prince Hall Grand Lodge”.

Thanks Alisdare Hickson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/)Black Lives Matter protesters kneel and raise their han...
06/20/2020

Thanks Alisdare Hickson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/)

Black Lives Matter protesters kneel and raise their hands in London's Oxford Street - 8 July 2016.
I was impressed by the spontaneity, passion and excellent organization at very short notice of the "Black Lives Matter" march through central London yesterday.

The aim of the marchers was to highlight the low value seemingly placed on black lives in response to the fatal shootings by U.S. police officers of Philando Castile, a 32 year old cafeteria supervisor in St. Paul, Minnesota and Alton Sterling, a 37 year old father of five in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The marchers initially assembled at the South Bank before crossing the river into Westminster. Many of them shouted "Black Lives Matter" and "Hands Up Don't Shoot" as they first passed parliament at about 19.30 and then Whitehall, Piccadilly, Regent Street, Broadcasting House and Oxford Street.

Friday's protest was the first of several planned in London against police brutality and racism which organizers were keen to stress was a worldwide problem.

Black Lives Matter was established in July 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch officer who fatally injured a 17 year old black high school student, Trayvon Martin, in Florida and it has subsequently become an international movement campaigning against the perceived relative acceptability of violence against black people.

The British Guardian newspaper recently calculated the number of people in the United States killed by law enforcement officials - in 2015 that reached a record level of 1134 young black men and the statistics showed that they were nine times more likely to be victims than the average American and five times more likely than young white men. ( The Guardian 31 December 2015 ).

You can find out more about the goals of "Black Lives Matter" and also about out how to help through their website -blacklivesmatter.com/

Will definitely be getting this book for the DRC Library! Henson is remembered coming through Florence by Arthur G. Hill...
06/20/2020
Josiah Henson: the forgotten story in the history of slavery

Will definitely be getting this book for the DRC Library! Henson is remembered coming through Florence by Arthur G. Hill in his recollections of the Underground Railroad: "Father Henson, one of the originals that furnished particulars for Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom,' came by this line on one of his trips to Canada. I think that it was not his first trip, but that he had been south again after some of his friends." But what really was the line that Hill speaks of? Dawn Settlement, like the Elgin Settlement in nearby Buxton where former residents of Florence are known to have settled, are much more efficiently reached by an east/west route than going straight north then across Canada, an almost 400 mile longer trip. Maybe this new book will help.

His life partly inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He was entertained at both Windsor Castle and the White House. He rescued more than 100 enslaved people. But barely anyone has heard of him

Thanks Robbins House, thinking of you in these hard times
06/07/2020

Thanks Robbins House, thinking of you in these hard times

When you hear the words "Walden Pond" you probably think of Henry David Thoreau and his cabin in the woods. If you've been here, you might also think of the many hiking trails and sandy little coves surrounding the clear water of the pond where thousands of people enjoy swimming and walking each season.

What you might not think about is the community of formerly enslaved people that once lived near Walden too. Not because it was the beautiful, tranquil scene we flock to today, but precisely because it was considered an infertile, out of the way, undesirable piece of land to Concord's white population.

As Elise Lemire writes in her excellent book "Black Walden",

'In all, as many as fifteen former slaves made a life for themselves in Walden Woods, enough that Henry David Thoreau could describe their community as a "small village." '

Over the next few weeks, Concord Tour Company will be putting the final touches on our African American history tour - a walking tour that explores and includes the black experience in Concord side by side with the history you already know.

A portion of tour proceeds will be donated to The Robbins House - Home of Concord's African American History.

Stay tuned for a release date, but in the meantime you can learn more about Concord's African American history and donate directly by visiting www.robbinshouse.org

Image: "Black Walden: Slavery and Its Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts", © 2009 Elise Lemire

The David Ruggles Center celebrates the out-sized impact residents of the small village of Florence had in the struggle ...
06/04/2020

The David Ruggles Center celebrates the out-sized impact residents of the small village of Florence had in the struggle for racial and gender equality. At the core of our mission though, is an attempt to move our attention to how their striving resonates today, and to be constantly inspired by them toward greater justice, empowerment, and inclusion.

We can try to imagine what Sojourner Truth, David Ruggles and Frederick Douglass would have made of the current crisis, and how they would implore us to take action in the face of it. While many on our committee are in high-risk groups for the Covid 19 virus and cannot safely take to the streets, we support and admire the passion of younger protesters who are showing up, day after day, to press the issue and bring a new world into being. Ruggles, Truth, and Douglass struggled against the concrete institution of slavery; we struggle to finally, once and for all, in this country of strife, to overcome its sad and violent legacy.

“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning.” — Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857, speech on the 23rd anniversary of emancipation in the West Indies

“We are here to honor liberty and to denounce slavery. To assert the right of man and to testify against oppression. To invigorate the love of freedom and to deepen the detestation of Tyranny to proclaim the dictates of eternal justice and to rebuke the wrongs done by man to man.” — Stephen C. Rush, formerly enslaved member of the Northampton Association, to William Lloyd Garrison, July 21, 1844

Remembering the service of nearly 200,000 Black soldiers who fought for the Union, 40,000 of whom gave their lives for t...
05/31/2020

Remembering the service of nearly 200,000 Black soldiers who fought for the Union, 40,000 of whom gave their lives for this country. Thank you Boston African American National Historic Site.

On this day, in 1897, the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Massachusetts Regimental Memorial was dedicated. A few days before the event, some reporters reached out to local survivors of the 54th MA Regiment. The Boston Daily Advertiser spoke with Burrill Smith at his home. At this point, Smith was 51 years old; he enlisted at the age of 17 years and was placed into Company A. Like many other veterans of the 54th MA, he had waited for a long time for this memorial. First conceived soon after the Civil War ended, it would take 14 years for the monument to be created, executed, and unveiled. Smith stated that this "Memorial Day will be the happiest day of my life. I have prayed the good Lord to spare my life until that time, and I think he is going to do it." Many others from the Regiment were not as fortunate with many dying or being unable to attend the event due to infirmities or financial issues. Smith, however, would be marching down Beacon Street in formation once again.

Though the weather was overcast and gloomy, thousands of people attended the ceremony. The Boston Herald described the scene: “There was a great crowd at this corner, and every window was filled. There was not much applause, except for the survivors of the 54th, who were cheered heartily...It was an interesting sight to watch the survivors of the colored regiments as they passed by the monument. Each veteran uncovered and gazed at the bronze figures with reverential eyes. Time has not dealt lightly with all the colored survivors. Many of them are weighed down with age and infirmities and their marching was unsteady and shaky.”

Today, the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Massachusetts Memorial is one of the most beloved in the area. It serves as a place for people to gather and remember the sacrifice of those brave soldiers in 1863 to 1865. It also serves as a place for people to gather and protest for their civil rights. As part of our commitment to preserving these stories, the National Park Service is proud to be a partner alongside the Friends of the Public Garden, the City of Boston, and the Museum of African American History in the restoration project of the Memorial that is happening right now. You can learn more about this project here: https://friendsofthepublicgarden.org/shaw54th/
#54thMA

Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns Arrested
05/26/2020
Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns Arrested

Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns Arrested

On this day in 1854, Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia, was arrested in Boston. His capture enraged black and white abolitionists. Two days after the arrest, a number of them attacked the federal courthouse with a battering ram, hoping to free Burns. Their attempt failed. Burns's defense...

One of the bakers here, Faith Deering, co-curated our Lydia Maria Child exhibit and co-manages our Child Garden plot at ...
05/25/2020
Making a Cup Cake - Baking with Lydia Maria Child — Historic Deerfield

One of the bakers here, Faith Deering, co-curated our Lydia Maria Child exhibit and co-manages our Child Garden plot at Grow Food Northampton. So glad we get to share Faith with our friends at Historic Deerfield.

We have so appreciated your response to our Maker Mondays Blog and have enjoyed the emails and photos you have sent us. From your feedback, we know that our Butter and Biscuit blog was a favorite so we thought we would offer another baking project. This one is a cake recipe that comes from a book pu

Clinton Church Restoration
05/04/2020

Clinton Church Restoration

Not only did Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times win a Pulitzer today for her ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, but Ida B. Wells was given a special citation, posthumously, for her brave reporting on the lynching of African Americans. And there’s more... read it at https://www.pulitzer.org/news/announcement-2020-pulitzer-prize-winners

Learn Our History, Safely, Outdoors, with our Self-guided Walking Tours. The David Ruggles Center (davidrugglescenter.or...
04/26/2020

Learn Our History, Safely, Outdoors, with our Self-guided Walking Tours.
The David Ruggles Center (davidrugglescenter.org) offers outdoor activity free of charge during this time of social distancing. Your family can explore our history, walking the beautiful village of Florence with your smartphone. (There are downloadable maps available as well.) Dive deeper into the people and places you encounter along the way by visiting our new interactive curriculum. Write us with your questions and please consider making a donation to support our work (https://davidrugglescenter.org/donate/).

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225 Nonotuck St
Florence, MA
01062

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Amherst College Archives & Special Collections just added a post to our blog that includes Florence, MA resident (and Amherst alumnus) Wilbert Lew (Class of 1883).
Happy Decoration Day to everyone! And one more reason to appreciate our annual Sojourner Truth Memorial Celebrations on this week-end!