Important Figures Digital Exhibits

This collection of exhibits features figures Black figures who shaped Boston's history, and thusly, its present. Included are exhibits about “Philis Wheatley Peters,” “Crispus Attucks,” “Pauline Hopkins,”  “Chloe Russel,” “Maria Stewart,” “Robert Morris,” “Chloe Spear,” and “David Walker.” Our collections attempt to show the multidimensionality of Black individuals and the heterogeneous ways that these individuals influenced the culture, history, resistance, and being of Black Boston. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a starting point, which we will continue to add to. 

Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks was the first man to die in the Boston Massacre and thus, the American Revolution. He was regarded as a martyr during the war and as an anti-slavery symbol in the nineteenth century.

Frederick Douglass

Elizabeth Freeman

Prince Hall

Pauline Hopkins

Pauline Hopkins was a Black woman recognized widely in the 19th century as an intellectual, a singer, and a novelist. She's known for being the editor of the Colored Cooperative Publishing Company, as well as her efforts promoting racial equality and uplift.

Brazillai Lew

Colonel Samuel Middleton

Robert Morris

Robert T. Morris was a wealthy 19th-century Boston businessman and philanthropist. While acting as its president, he managed Pacific Mills' transformation into a prominent textile plant. He generously donated to charities, hospitals, and schools while promoting Boston's economic development.

Chloe Russel

While little is known about her life, Chloe Russel is recognized as the author of The Complete Fortune Teller and Dream Book (1842). As a free Black woman living in Boston, she bought property, raised money to free enslaved people, and ran her own business.

Peter Salem

Richard Severs

Chloe Spear

Chloe Spear, an enslaved woman in 18th-century Boston, found freedom after the Revolutionary War. Chloe was recognized for her status as a popular figure in the working and religious communities. Her life narrative, which was chronicled in obituaries and a biography, is a monument to tenacity and accomplishments in the face of difficulty.

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Maria Stewart

Maria Stewart was a feminist and abolitionist, known for fighting against the "Cult of Domesticity" and using religion to advocate for progress. She was also the first Black woman to make a public speech to mixed male and female crowds.

Belinda Sutton

David Walker

Walker was a prominent member of Boston's free African American and abolitionist community. Walker is most remembered for his ardent demand for the immediate and total abolition of slavery in the United States in his influential and contentious booklet titled "Walker's Appeal." His outspoken opinions made him a target for pro-slavery persons and more moderate abolitionist organizations.

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley is recognized as the first African-American to publish a volume of poetry. As a child, she was kidnapped from West Africa and sold in slavery to the Wheatley family. It was here in Boston that she learned to read and write.