Learning About Slavery in Oyster Bay

Distance Learning & School Tours

5th Grade and Above, 1 hour

Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay is famous as the home of Robert Townsend – George Washington’s spy – but this virtual program brings to light a new and much misunderstood history, focused not on the Townsend family, but on the 19 African-Americans who were enslaved by the Townsends, and on the extent of slavery throughout New York and Long Island in the days before and after the Revolution. It is a history so critical to understand, and yet slavery in New York remains virtually unknown to the vast majority of New Yorkers.

This one-hour program reveals true stories of scores of individuals who lived in slavery on Long Island, including the first person freed on Long Island, in 1685; the first published Black author in America, born in 1711; an enslaved woman who escaped with the British in 1779, and a regiment of African-Americans who fought alongside British Col. John Graves Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers in 1780. Participants are invited to connect with a particular enslaved individual, examine historical documents, read runaway slave ads and notices of slaves for sale, and learn about how laws in New York to end slavery impacted the lives of these forgotten Long Islanders.

From a 7th grade student, about “Learning About Slavery in Oyster Bay”:
“Your presentation was amazing. I didn’t know much about the topic but now I know a lot about it. It had so much good information about slavery on Long Island. It is very interesting and I really enjoyed it. Again, thank you so much for doing this.”

This fall we re pleased to offer these turnkey virtual programs, again! Each program is $4 per student, with no more than 2 classes per virtual program. Scholarships are available to Title 1 recipients, and offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so please contact us as soon as possible if your school qualifies for financial assistance.

Email Claire Bellerjeau at cbellerjeau@raynhamhallmuseum.org to schedule a program or for more information.