FreeJoe, The Renaissance Man: 1796-1875

Joseph H. “FreeJoe” Harris was a freed slave who purchased other family members’ freedom through his success as an Architect, Innkeeper, Minister, Stagecoach owner and Farmer. These accomplishments, exceedingly admirable for an African-American during the pre-civil war era, come to life within the exhibits’ fifty-six displays, 3 dimensional replicas and photographs of individuals that were born more than 175 years ago. The exhibit entertains and teaches and it appeals to people of all cultural backgrounds because of its commentary on humanity and interracial bonds. These displays tell several stories: one details the exciting revelations of Genealogical research, another that depicts Joseph H. “FreeJoe” Harris overcoming strife in order to achieve, and one more that visitors bring to it by wondering how their own families lived through plights and celebrated success. The exhibit includes the Emancipation Papers of Joseph H. “FreeJoe” Harris, purchase of Joseph’s wife and daughters, marriage licenses, a prenuptial agreement in 1869, purchases and sales of land and census records. This exhibit produces personal dignity by showing people that they have treasures within themselves, histories worth harvesting.

Exhibit Items

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