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Smithsonian receives rare Harriet Tubman items

Mar 10, 2010 4:11:00 PM - thestate.com
Tourists and history buffs will be able to see some rare, personal belongings of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman when a museum of African American history opens on the National Mall.

On Wednesday, historian Charles L. Blockson donated about 40 objects from Tubman's life to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Once owned by the woman who led hundreds of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad, the items range from a knife and spoon from her kitchen to a shawl given to her by Queen Victoria, as well as Tubman's favorite hymnal.

They are the only relics from Tubman known to exist outside of her home in Auburn, N.Y., said museum director Lonnie Bunch.

"For me to be able to tell the story of the Underground Railroad through Harriet Tubman with actual artifacts is really a surprise I didn't expect," Bunch said. Seeing the artifacts the first time, he said, was "really one of the most moving moments in my career."

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