Ames History Museum: Iowa Underground Railroad

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Program Description

Program Details


Topic: Josiah Bushnell Grinnell and the Iowa Underground Railroad

Presenter: David Connon, independent researcher, writer, historical interpreter

“Preacher,” “congressman,” “negro-stealer”: Josiah Bushnell Grinnell was called all of those things during his life. He was called a negro-stealer because he participated in the Iowa Underground Railroad. Though some residents opposed this work, Grinnell and other Grinnell residents helped at least 37 fugitive slaves who passed through their town before the Civil War.

Connon will tell a story of racism, noble actions and conflict and highlight abolitionist John Brown’s visit to Grinnell, Grinnell’s first riot over the presence of fugitive slaves in the public school and Grinnell’s noteworthy connection to Ames.


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Provided in partnership with Ames Public Library and Ames History Museum. Program funded by Humanities Iowa, a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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