Black History Month
African American history is New York State history. In recognition of Black History Month, the New York State Museum presents a variety of educational resources and online programs about the experiences of Black New Yorkers.
Virtual and In-Person Programming
Statewide Black History Month Programming
Check out this comprehensive list of in-person and virtual Black History Month programs happening throughout New York State:
Thomas Powell Farmstead: A Virtual Tour of an African American Heritage Site
This presentation by Dr. Mike Lucas, divided into five segments, provides an overview of the Thomas Powell Homestead site located in Colonie, New York. Mike describes the history, layout, and archaeology of the Powell family farmstead through an on-site tour.
Exploring African American Contexts in New York Archaeology
Recent investigations show there are ways of "seeing" enslaved African Americans in diverse households, even when they did not live in separate quarters from their enslavers. View recorded presentations of archaeologists who discussed their research on plural households in New York at the 2022 Fall Meeting of the New York Archaeology Council, in partnership with the New York State Museum.
Agency & Identity: Cherry Hill’s Would-Be Sisters
Join Historic Cherry Hill’s director of education, Shawna Reilly, as she explores the lives of Kitty Putnam and Minnie Knapp, two Gilded Age women raised in the same household with different prescribed social roles.
On View at the NYSM
Timbuctoo: Gerrit Smith’s Experiment
Discover the history of Timbuctoo, a little-known Black settlement near Lake Placid, New York, established in 1846 by abolitionist Gerrit Smith in hopes of securing voting rights for the 3,000 black men who settled there. The exhibition features a short video by filmmaker Paul A. Miller about the insurmountable challenges its settlers faced as they fought to establish their unique community amidst New York's Adirondack mountains.
View Exhibit Information:
Related Resources for Educators:
CTLE (from WMHT):
Consider the Source (from NYS Archives):
Black Capital: Harlem in the 1920s
Discover the rich and diverse culture of Harlem, New York, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Courage: The Black New York Struggle for Quality Education
This 20-panel exhibition explores the visions and aspirations of courageous leaders and parents who have been seeking to educate Black children.
Museum Resources and Research
Fifteenth Amendment: Educational Activities
This online guide includes several object-inquiry activities. By exploring primary source materials around the topic of national enfranchisement of Black American men through the ratification of the 15th Amendment, students will develop a better understanding of the context surrounding this important step in America’s history.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Address to the New York State Civil War Centennial Commission
View information and download educator guides designed to provide strategies and resources for teaching about the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Video & History:
Open Wounds: The Fifty-Year Legacy of the Attica Prison Uprising
This exhibition seeks to present the various viewpoints of the September 1971 Attica prison uprising and its aftermath. It will also discuss the wider impacts of the event and create a dialogue as to why this story is important fifty years later.
Exhibit Information & Video:
View/Download Panels (PDF):
Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground
In 2005, the discovery of human remains during construction in Colonie, NY, offered a unique view of slavery in rural colonial America. Learn more about the history of the Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground.
Recommended Classroom Resource:
Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery by archaeologist and children’s author, Lois Miner Huey, offers an informative and age appropriate look into the work of archaeologists as they “pieced together the truth” around the individuals whose human remains archaeologists discovered at Schuyler Flatts. Huey compares archaeological research with the historical record to show how different forms of evidence are needed to create a better picture of the lives of the people enslaved at Schuyler Flatts. Forgotten Bones helps younger readers learn about the enslavement of people in New York, the different types of primary resources available to learn about people who were enslaved, and how archaeology can help tell the story of those who were enslaved.
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow details the national story of the struggle for Black equality after the end of slavery and through the Jim Crow era. A link is provided to the Educator's Guide created by the New-York Historical Society website.
Highlights from the Collections
Discover more about the historical and archaeological artifacts featured in the banner above. View all »
NYSM Videos & CTLE
The Lives of Enslaved People through the Objects They Left Behind
Video Presentation: The Jessup Family: A Free African American Household in Early NY, 1790–1830
Every Prison Is Attica: A Short Documentary Film by David Kuhn
Highlights from the NYSM History Collection: Focus on African American-related Collections
Field Trip to the NYSM: Evidence of Slavery and Freedom Buried Beneath the Floor
About NYSM CTLE Credits
The New York State Museum is an approved provider of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE). Educators can earn 2 hours of CTLE credit by watching the webinar and completing the surveys linked below each video. Please allow up to two weeks to receive confirmation of completion. View all available CTLE from the NYSM.
A New York Minute in History Podcast
Aaron Mossell and the Struggle to Integrate Lockport’s Schools
Discover the contributions of the Mossell family in western New York, and their efforts to successfully integrate the Niagara County city of Lockport’s public schools in the late 19th century — nearly 80 years before legal segregation ended nationwide.
Ithaca’s Tuskegee Airman
Discover the stories of New Yorkers who served in WWII as part of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, an all-Black group of pilots serving in the then still-segregated U.S. Army on the latest episode of A New York Minute In History.
Listen to the Podcast: Ithaca’s Tuskegee Airman
Educators: Online CTLE Form for Tuskegee Airman
Rapp Road and the Great Migration
Hosts Devin and Lauren delve into the history of Albany County’s Rapp Road Community, an African American neighborhood built by southern immigrants who moved north for a better life in the late 1920s.
Spirits of Sacrifice
Explore the lives of Henry Johnson and Tommy Hitchcock Jr., World War I heroes with ties to New York. Through interviews with family members, historians, and others, we follow Johnson and Hitchcock to the trenches and airfields of Europe and beyond.
Slavery in New York and Resistance to It
This episode explores slavery in New York and specifically the resistance to the institution, including the Underground Railroad. Co-hosts Devin Lander and Lauren Roberts speak with area experts and tour a historic home in Albany that is living a new life as a museum depicting the history of its previous occupants.
Devin and Lauren dive into the history of Timbuctoo, an African American settlement founded by philanthropist Gerrit Smith in response to an 1846 law requiring all Black men to own $250 worth of property in order to vote in New York state. To counter this racist policy, Smith decided to give away 120,000 acres of land to 3,000 free, Black New Yorkers, hoping to enable them to move out of cities and work the land to its required value.
Articles, Publications, and Additional Research
Advancement Comes Slowly: African American Employment in Rochester, New York During the Great Migration
Science Tuesday: Uncovering Commeraw Stoneware
Science Tuesday: The Power of a Closer Look - Unearthing Personal Possessions of Enslaved African Americans
Collaborative field schools completed at Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany's Arbor Hill neighborhood
Slaves Rescued in Utica
Betsey Prince Site
The Archaeology of Slavery in the Hudson River Valley