7th Annual Peterboro Emancipation Days

Saturday & Sunday, August 6 & 7, 2016

Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark

5304 Oxbow Road P.O. Box 6

Peterboro NY 13134

Saturday, August 6, 2016

10:00 Registration

10:30 Assembly, Announcements, Song, and Group Photo followed by Processional to Cemetery

2:00 National Park Centennial Celebration: Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Passports Issued

Sunday, August 6, 2016

2:00 Community Conversation: We've Always Been Here: LGBTQ Identities, Race, and the Power of Community

Facilitated by Drea Finley, Assistant Dean and Director of First Generation Programs, Colgate University, Hamilton NY

For more information and for updates: 315-280-8828

7th Annual Peterboro Emancipation Days

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) will be commemorating Emancipation Days Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7 with both traditional and new programs. The event opens at 10:00 am with free parking and free registration at the Estate, followed by programs similar to those conducted in the 1920s and 1930s by a generation celebrating the emancipation of the generation before them. In 1925, more than 600 black men and women from Central New York made a pilgrimage to Peterboro, home of Gerrit Smith, to pay homage to abolitionists who fought for their freedom. Emancipation Day celebrations grew in later years, drawing crowds of more than 1,000 people, who came from Syracuse, Utica, Ithaca, Binghamton, Oswego and Fulton for parades, picnics and concerts. Although the practice faded after World War II, local descendants of freedom seekers are holding the Peterboro Emancipation Day celebration for the 7th year since its revival in 2010.

At 10:30 am Co-Chairs of Emancipation Day, Jim Corpin, Carrie Martin, and Max Smith will welcome guests to the event and to the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. Corpin is a member of the Smithfield Community Association, the governing board of the GSENHL and a member of the Town of Smithfield board. Max Smith is a former mayor of Oneida and a passionate speaker about his roots in Peterboro. Martin is Co-Chair of the GSENHL, Secretary of the Smithfield Community Association, and the organizer of the Peterboro Civil War Living History Day. After assembly, announcements, and song a group event photo is followed by the Processional to the Peterboro Cemetery. Two wreaths are carried to the grave sites: one is laid on the grave of a man or woman that reads Born a Slave; Died a Free Man or Born a Slave; Died a Free Woman, and the other on the humble grave of wealthy abolitionist Gerrit Smith.

After a bring-your-own-picnic, or lunch at the Deli on the Green, a special program to celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) will open at 2 p.m. with thirteen rings of the Peterboro tower bells calling people to The Barn which was a transportation hub of Underground Railroad activity at the site. The Gerrit Smith Estate is a part of the NPS as a National Historic Landmark and as a site on the Network to Freedom (NTF), the national Underground Railroad Trail. The Estate is one of 75 sites in the nation, and one of seven sites in the state, to receive the NPS Network to Freedom Passport Stamp. After brief programs by scholars, proclamations by dignitaries, and the presentation of the passport stamp, the stamp will be ready to mark the NPS Centennial Passports available at the Peterboro Mercantile.

Tours of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark will be conducted at 3 pm. At 4 p.m. refreshments will be served at the Smithfield Community Center, the building where the abolitionists of the state held the inaugural meeting of the New York State Antislavery Society in 1835. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will be open to visitors to see a facsimile of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, once owned by Gerrit Smith.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016 a Community Conversation for all interested persons will be held in The Barn. Drea Finley will be the lead facilitator of the We've Always Been Here: LGBTQ Identities, Race and the Power of Community. Finley is a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and is co-chair of its Cultural Diversity Committee. In her working life, Finley serves as an Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising and Director of First Generation Programs at Colgate University. Finley is also a Masters student at Syracuse University in the Higher Education Cultural Foundations Program. As an activist; she writes and speaks often on race and racism and their intersections with other identities and systems of oppression.

The public is encouraged to join descendants of freedom seekers who came to Peterboro for the free weekend. For updates and more information:,, or 315-280-8828.

Ballots and Bloomers: Passionate Reforms and Peterboro

2015 is the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! Peterboro’s second Equality Day 2015 event will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 23 at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro. Norman K. Dann PhD will present Ballots and Bloomers: Passionate Reforms and Peterboro, a program on Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s quest for the vote for women, and Elizabeth Smith Miller’s dress reform for women made famous by Stanton’s colleague Amelia Bloomer. Dr. Dann’s presentation is based on his research and publications of Cousins of Reform: Gerrit Smith and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade: The Life of Elizabeth Smith Miller, a book in publication. The two Elizabeths were named after the same Livingston grandmother and, besides being close cousins and friends, were allies in reform activities.

Norm Dann is a founder and member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, a docent at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, a member of the Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend Committee, and Treasurer of the Peterboro Area Museum. Professor emeritus Morrisville State College, Dann’s biography Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform (2009) was the first in a series of books on the Smith family of Peterboro.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 22, young and old are invited to a living history event Looking Back –and Ahead: The Long Road to Equality to break ground for an Equality Garden in Peterboro. As seeds are planted, programming will weave the history of the century of organizing that led to the 19th Amendment, as well as the century of organizing still underway as the United States continues its work toward Equality. Suzanne B. Spring PhD, Jeff McArn and students from Colgate University and Hamilton College will facilitate the participatory program commemorating Equality Day.

On August 26th, 1970, Betty Freidan and the National Organization for Women (NOW) organized a nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality to demand equal opportunities. Over 100,000 women participated. This strike shined light on the injustices and disparities lived daily by women across the nation. In 1971, Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY) introduced a bill which designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. This date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which granted women suffrage. Women’s Equality Day celebrates women’s suffrage but also brings attention to women’s continuous path towards true equality. The President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration for the struggle that continues to this day.

Both events take place at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134. For further updates and information: and


President’s Day 2015

President Lincoln Featured in 2015 Programs

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro NY has suspended its two year cycle of inductions and commemorations in 2015 in order to address President Abraham Lincoln as The Great Emancipator. Lincoln: During this Sesquicentennial year of Lincoln’s death, the end of the Civil War, and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, NAHOF and its Peterboro heritage partners will provide public programs on Lincoln from March to October 2015. The first Lincoln program will be Saturday, March 7 at 1 p.m. at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro, as part of the annual birthday party for Gerrit Smith. Norman K. Dann PhD will trace the Peterboro connection to the evolution of the 19th C. Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, as well as explain the connection of Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation facsimile on display at NAHOF to the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States.

Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian, will describe the relationship between Lincoln and telegrapher Samuel Beckwith of Hamilton at 6:30 pm, Thursday, May 28 at the Hamilton Public Library. This program is part of the Madison County Civil War Series.

Well-known Lincoln reenactor Jack Baylis will lead the Processional Honoring Civil War Veterans at the 23rd Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend on Saturday, June 13. The Reichert exhibit of Lincoln’s funeral will be on display for the annual weekend event. At 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13 Patrick Schroeder, historian at the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, will present on the final engagement of the Civil War.

The Annual Peterboro Emancipation Day on August 1 is a celebration of Lincoln’s emancipation documents. Equality Days on August 22 and 23 examine the protection of civil rights for women. J. Thomas Hogle PhD, Morrisville State College, will present his annual Constitution Day program in September with a focus on the Thirteenth Amendment for which Lincoln pressed passage.

The 2012 movie Lincoln will be presented at 6:30 p.m. at the Cazenovia Public Library to commence a Thursday night series of films and discussions around Madison County in October. This film series Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is a special project developed by a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The films Freedom Riders, The Loving Story, and Slavery by Another Name will be presented on a rotation schedule at the Hamilton Public Library, Madison Hall, and the Oneida Public Library. The final film in the series will be The Abolitionists presented Sunday, October 25 at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro.

The study of Lincoln culminates during the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual public weekend with an evening concert for Lincoln on Friday, October 23 at the Catherine Cumming Theatre in Cazenovia. On Saturday afternoon October 24 Milton C. Sernett PhD will facilitate a round-table discussion with Douglas Egerton PhD., Jason Emerson, Joseph Fornieri PhD, and Robert Paquette PhD on The Emancipation of Abraham Lincoln: Head, Heart, and the American Memory. Following a 19th C. dinner to which the public is invited, Harold Holzer, President of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, will present the Lincoln and the Abolitionist Press: An American Evolution.

For updates, please check,

315-280-8828 as plans and announcements continue to unfold.

Peterboro Emancipation Day 2015 — Jul 23, 2015 3:50:45 PM

GSENHL Web Site Updated — Mar 13, 2014 8:51:27 PM