Af-Am Museum Gets 39 Harriet Tubman Artifacts

Collector and author Charles L. Blockson donated the items to the National Museum of African American History and Culture's collection.

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Underground Railroad expert Charles L. Blockson has donated some items from its most famous conductor

On a blue-covered table in a Capitol Hill hearing room, an ordinary hymnal was raised to the status of a historical object with the simple signature of its owner, Harriet Tubman Davis.

The book of gospel hymns was among an extraordinary trove of Tubman artifacts given Wednesday to the National Museum of African American History and Culture by esteemed collector and author Charles L. Blockson. Lonnie G. Bunch, the founding director of the museum, described the November meeting in Philadelphia when Blockson, who lives there, first showed the staff the 39 objects he is donating.

"Each object in this collection humbled us, excited us and moved us to tears. And then, Dr. Blockson uncovered Harriet Tubman's personal hymnal, and I think many of us lost it," Bunch said.

Among the items slated for the museum are a framed portrait, one of the few photographic images of Tubman known to exist; a beige silk and linen shawl given to Tubman by Queen Victoria; three postcards depicting Tubman's funeral in 1913; and her wooden-handled knife and fork.

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