The Brooklyn Historical Society is a museum, library and educational center dedicated to encouraging the exploration and appreciation of Brooklyn's diverse peoples and cultures both past and present.
Standing on Duffield Street, you get a unique view of old and new existing in the same space. Skyrises dwarf the various old houses the line the residential street. One of these homes was owned by abolitionists Thomas and Harriet Truesdell during the 1800s.
The Truesdell's moved from Rhode Island to New York and purchased the house at 227 Duffield in 1850, the year the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Before moving to New York, Thomas helped found the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society, and Harriet was the treasurer of the Providence Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. Their New York family home was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad in New York, and it was rumored that multiple other houses on the block also hosted slaves escaping to freedom.
Thomas and Harriet Truesdale were close friends of William Lloyd Garrison, one of Boston's influential abolitionists. Garrison started the abolitionist newspaper, the "Liberator". When in New York, he stayed with the Truesdell's.
The house remained in the family until 1921. In 1998, after owner Albert Chatel passed, his wife discovered the sub-basement that once served as the hiding place for the Underground Railroad. Since then, she is dedicated to preserving the house and its history to share it with the community. Take a stroll through the house with her and see how its impact goes much farther than Brooklyn in the video below.
Cover photo credit: @angelharrisonlife via Instagram.