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Heroes of the Underground Railroad

Lecture by Author Jenny Masur

Many of the unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad lived and worked in Washington, DC. Men and women, black and white, operatives and freedom seekers—all demonstrated courage, resourcefulness and initiative. Enslaved people engineered escapes, individually and in groups, with and without the assistance of an organized network. Some ended up back in slavery or in jail, but some escaped to freedom. Anthropologist and author Jenny Masur tells their stories.

Jenny Masur, a proud Washingtonian, has been pursuing her interest in the Underground Railroad in the Washington area for almost twenty years. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she received her doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her doctoral research was conducted in southern Spain on rural women’s concepts of work and leisure. Her fascination with people’s life stories grew out of her background in Anthropology. She and a colleague interviewed Jewish women who immigrated to this country from Russ-Poland and turned these interviews into a co-edited oral history, Jewish Grandmothers. Since retiring from the National Park Service she has devoted herself to her passions, the histories of the Underground Railroad, Washington, DC, and the Cultural Anthropology of women in rural Andalusia. It is her hope that this effort to disseminate stories based on historical evidence about the Underground Railroad in the Washington, DC area will stimulate discovery of new details of unsung heroes who resisted slavery in the DC area, and more coordination of such research across the greater Washington metropolitan area and beyond. She regards this book as a tribute to the local and independent historians upon whose research this book is based.

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