Changing America: Harriet Tubman Shawl

Photo: Michael Barnes, Smithsonian
December 13, 2012
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Photo: Michael Barnes, Smithsonian

Harriet Tubman escaped the bonds of slavery as a young woman in the early 1800s. She returned to the South many times as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad to lead other African Americans to freedom. During the Civil War, Tubman served as a spy, nurse, and cook for Union forces. In 1863, she helped free more than 700 African Americans during a raid in South Carolina—a feat that earned her the nickname “General Tubman.” England’s Queen Victoria gave Tubman this shawl around 1897.

Gift of Charles L. Blockson