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Black Heritage Travel: Northeastern United States: Connecticut
"Been There!" = Personal notes about places I've visited.

Connecticut Maine Massachusetts New Hampshire New Jersey
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Connecticut Freedom Trail

Included on the trail are sites associated with the Amistad case of 1839-1842, buildings reported to have been used on the Underground Railroad and gravesites, monuments, homes and buildings that are associated with the heritage and movement towards freedom of Connecticut's African American citizens. It presently includes 100 sites in 42 towns. You can take the tour online, or in person.

African-American Affairs Commission

A semi-autonomous agency of the State of Connecticut, the AAAC works to improve and promote the economic development, education, health and political well-being of the African-American community. Check their events calendar to learn about special events, lectures, exhibits, etc. taking place around the state.

Amistad America (see also Mystic Seaport)

Mystic Seaport is the nation's leading maritime museum, and quite naturally, home to Amistad America and a re-creation of the original 19th century coastal trading ship. At this rich website you'll find travel and tourism information as well as a wealth of online resources about the Amistad Revolt.

Upper Housatonic Valley African American Trail

The African American Heritage Trail tells the stories of Black luminaries who have lived in the area, including W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson. but it also details the life and times of ordinary/extraordinary African Americans. The area encompasses 29 communities in Western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut. You can download a free Trail Guide and other brochures at their website. AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE IN THE UPPER HOUSATONIC VALLEY, a book featuring 120 photos and illustrations, eight original maps, 67 articles, a timeline and more is also available at their website or at

Bridgeport - Housatonic Museum of Art

This small museum holds nearly 500 ethnographic objects from Africa. At their website you can learn more about visiting the museum, and view images from a past exhibition entitled Producing Histories: African Art in the Housatonic Museum of Art Collection.

Canterbury - Prudence Crandall Museum

In 1833 Prudence Crandall (Connecticut's official "State Heroine") opened the first academy for African American women. The state responded by passing the "Black Law" making her school illegal. Though the case against her was dismissed in 1834, a mob completed the job by attacking the school and forcing her to close. The museum is a National Historic Landmark, where changing exhibitions and events explore a variety of themes, including black, women's and local history. At the website you'll find visitor's information, a calendar of events, and more.

Danbury - Marian Anderson Studio

Built as a studio and retreat for the world renowned singer in the early 1940's (and where she lived until 1992) the studio might have been demolished to make way for commercial development had it not been for concerned citizens. In 1999 the building was moved to the Danbury Museum & Historical Society's Main Street location, where it was restored and opened to the public with a grand Gala celebration in June 2004.

Farmington - Farmington Historical Society

Learn more about abolitionism and the Underground Railroad through the museum's online Freedom Trail exhibit. Changing exhibits feature topics in black history; a calendar of events is at their website. You can also visit some of the sites in person when you take one of their Freedom Trail Tours offered by the Farmington Black History Project.

Farmington - First Church of Christ, Congregational

Founded in 1652, with a meetinghouse dating back to 1772, the First Church of Christ was a hub of the Underground Railroad, and housed the slaves of the Amistad. It is still a lively, thriving church today; tours are available by appointment, or check their online calendar and FAQ to participate in worship or other events. Visitors are encouraged and welcomed.

Hartford - Amistad Center for Art & Culture

Wadsworth Atheneum, America's oldest public art museum, houses this vital collection of over 7000 items including art, artifacts and popular culture objects. Check their online calendar for changing exhibitions. Teachers should also check out the Atheneum's in-service training, African American Art, which examines artists of the past two centuries.

Hartford - Connecticut Historical Society Museum & Library

Established in Hartford in 1825, The Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) is one of the oldest historical societies in the nation and houses one of the most distinguished museum and library collections in New England. They have an online guide to African American resources in their archives, including printed material, manuscripsts, ephemera, artifacts, prints, photographs and editorial cartoons. At their website you can obtain information about visiting their archives and galleries in person, attending events or exhibitions, or view an online exhibition called Augustus Washington: Hartford's Black Daguerreotypist

Hartford - Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

A tour of the Stowe House provides an intimate glimpse into the life of the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The website provides visitor information, news, programs, events, resources for teachers and more. The Research Library has a wealth of materials about 19th-century women’s and African American history. Access to the library is free, but requires an appointment.

Hartford -

Information for "working, learning, living and playing your way through the 36 vibrant towns that make up Greater Hartford." Dining, lodging, events, attractions, shopping and more.

Hartford - Artists Collective

The Artists Collective was founded in 1970 by world renowned alto-saxophonist, composer, educator Jackie McLean, and emphasizes the cultural and artistic contributions of the African Diaspora. Check their website for a calendara of events and performances.

Hartford - The John E. Rogers African American Cultural Center, P.O. Box 1931, Hartford, CT 06144 (860) 233-5297

An avid researcher of long neglected archives and historical records documenting the lives of people of African descent, John E. Rogers was considered by many to be the father of Black History in Connecticut. He amassed a collection of African American history materials that is deemed to be one of the largest privately owned collections of its kind. The Rogers center, a historical and educational institution, was established in 1991 to inspire pride and empower the black community of Connecticut with knowledge of its own unique history and culture.

The John E. Rogers Center is working to restore the Old Northwest School Building, next to the Artists Collective. The historical and educational institution has featured exhibits on history, holidays, individuals, artwork, artifacts, sculpture and inventions. It also offers educational seminars, discussion groups, story hours and the celebration of special holidays and events. Until now, it has been housed in the Hartford Dental and Medical Center.

Hartford - Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame

Founded in 1994, the organization engages in research, dialogue, oral history and investigation to preserve the stories of women's achievements. African American women include novelist Ann Petry, singer Marian Anderson, Maria Miller Stewart (abolitionist and orator), artist Laura Wheeler Waring, civil rights litigator Constance Baker Motley, and Rachel Taylor Milton (distinguished educator and founder of the Urban League of Hartford.) You can visit the hall online or in person, and special events are also hosted throughout the year.

Mystic Seaport - The Museum of America and the Sea

For 400 years, Americans of African descent have been involved in the nation's maritime history, whether building and repairing vessels, catching fish and shellfish, or aboard merchant ships delivering cargo around the world. They also have a long tradition of service in the Navy and Coast Guard, defending a democracy that frequently treated them as second-class citizens. Mystic Seaport actively documents and interprets this history. Use the SEARCH function at the top of any page to find African American themed education programs, special tours and events, and online exhibits. You can also learn about the Paul Cuffe Memorial Fellowship For the Study of Minorities in American Maritime History. The website provides a wealth of travel and tourism information about lodging, dining, etc.

New Haven - Greater New Haven African-American Historical Society of the Ethnic Heritage Center

Originally founded in 1971 as the Connecticut Afro-American Historical Society, their collection has thousands of items and is now housed at the Ethnic Heritage Center of Southern Connecticut State University. The Center mounts exhibits, sponsors readings, and makes the archival materials available for researchers.

New Haven - Gilda Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University

While the Center's primary focus is research, they work to bridge the gap between scholars and the wider public through a variety of educational events and resources, such as the online exhibit Citizens All: African Americans in Connecticut 1700-1850. Check their website for events, or subscribe to their email newsletter.

New Haven - James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Yale University. Archival materials including manuscripts and photographs celebrate the accomplishments of African American writers and artists, beginning with the Harlem Renaissance. The archives are only open to scholars, but exhibits, educational programs and events interpret the materials and are open to the public. You can virtually visit their online exhibitions as well.

Norwich - Slater Memorial Museum

Located on the campus of Norwich Free Academy, the museum's small but significant collection of African Art is one of their permanent exhibits. The collection includesAfrican masks, sculpture, and utilitarian items from the Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana, Zaire, and Liberia and Oceanic artifacts, including spirit boards, carvings, and sculpture. You can download their newsletter free at their website.

Additional Resourcess

African American Heritage in the Upper Housatonic Valley. David Levinson, ed. Berkshire, 2006.

The African American Heritage Trail tells the stories of Black luminaries who have lived in the area, including W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson. But it also details the life and times of ordinary/extraordinary African Americans. The area encompasses 29 communities in Western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut, and the book features 120 photos and illustrations, eight original maps, 67 articles, essays, a timeline and more.

Black Heritage Sites: The North. Nancy C. Curtis. New Press 1998 Order at

This volume includes descriptions and detailed visitor information for hundreds of places of national and local significance, from churches and schools to battlefields and cemeteries, from stops on the Underground Railroad to landmarks of the 1950s civil rights movement. Black Heritage Sites is perfect for travelers and historians of all kinds--from the family planning a cross-country trip to the armchair traveler interested in gaining a unique perspective on African American history.

African American Historic Places. Savage, Beth L. Wiley, 2005 Order at

Features 800 sites on the National Historic Register which relate to African American History. Organized by 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Because it is designed as an identification tool rather than as a trip planner, the book lists only addresses and does not note telephone numbers, access policies, or admission charges. The introduction, however, notes that approximately three-fourths of the properties are privately owned and not open to the public. Black-and-white photographs are provided for some of the sites, and eight introductory essays provide context for understanding the historical significance of the sites.

A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement. Jim Carrier. Harcourt Books, 2004. Order at

This book is fascinating even if you never leave home. It's both a travel guide and a reference for anyone wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not limited to modern times; like many historians, the author takes the view that the struggle for civil rights began the moment the first enslaved African set foot on these shores and tried to break free. And it continued anywhere that people fought for dignity and equality. Consequently, the sites described here include sites of slave rebellions, legal battles, Underground Railroad safe houses, historically black colleges, churches, museums...even the minor league stadium in Florida where Jackie Robinson broke through the color line.

Historic Landmarks of Black America. Canter, George. Gale Group, 1991. Order at

Describes over 300 sites across the US and Canada, with entries ranging from a paragraph to several pages, with lots of illustrations. Each includes a historical sketch detailing the site's significance and practical information such as directions, hours, fees, and related sites....which of course you'd want to doublecheck before traveling! This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available cheap through used booksellers at

In Their Footsteps: The American Visions Guide to African-American Historical Sites. Chase, Henry. Owlet, 1994. Order at

Similar to Canter's Historic Landmarks, but more comprehensive covering 46 states, Ontario and Nova Scotia. This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available through used booksellers at