Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images; Courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections/Ernsberger, W. H.

Best known as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Tubman was also a spy during the Civil War.

Jess McHugh
January 05, 2017

An area of Auburn, New York, home to famed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, is on its way to becoming a national historical park.

“As a New Yorker and an American, I'm deeply proud to see Tubman Park finally become a reality," Sen. Chuck Schumer told Syracuse.com.

The U.S. Department of the Interior completed the land transfer for the park that will encompass her former home as well as the A.M.E. Zion church where she was a parishioner, the Associated Press reported.

The project, first proposed by a bill passed by Congress in 2014, now only needs final approval from the Secretary of the Interior. A similar historical park dedicated to Tubman has already been established in Maryland where she was born.

Tubman was a prominent abolitionist and escaped slave who helped dozens of others find their way to freedom via the Underground Railroad, a network of homes and businesses that helped transport slaves seeking their freedom to the north.

“What makes her so incredibly striking is that she went back several times after her own escape to freedom to help others,” Debra Michals, Ph.D. and director of women and gender studies at Merrimack College, told Travel + Leisure. “I don’t think most people today could comprehend what kind of inner fortitude and dedication to the larger cause of freedom that that must have taken.”

Tubman’s name recently appeared in the news when the U.S. treasury honored her in 2016 with the announcement that her face would replace that of former president and slave-holder Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Despite this development, many Americans do not have an in-depth understanding of Tubman’s life. Most students learn about her role in the Underground Railroad in elementary school, but Michals pointed out how many people have never heard about Tubman’s vital part in the Civil War effort as a nurse, scout, and spy for the Union Army.

“It’s really important that these kind of symbolic acknowledgements happen in our culture. Because otherwise the history of women and women’s accomplishments remains invisible,” Michals said.

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