Seward House Museum Unveils Underground Railroad Exhibit
“I think it is wrong to hold men in bondage at any time and under any circumstances. I think it right and just, therefore, to abolish slavery…”
William Seward, 1850
On Tuesday, June 22, Seward House Museum opened an exhibit celebrating the Seward family’s dedication to abolition and the Underground Railroad.
In 1891, a newspaper article about the Seward family stated “It is said that the old kitchen was one of the most popular stations of the Underground Railroad.” Appropriately, the exhibit will be located in the former basement kitchen and dining room.
While Seward worked nationally for the cause of abolition, his wife Frances and longtime servants Nicholas and Harriet Bogart oversaw the use of the Seward home for this endeavor.
While on a rare visit to Auburn in 1855, Seward was thrilled to open his home to two fugitive slaves. He later wrote his wife “The underground railroad works wonderfully. Two passengers came here last night.”
The Sewards also became patrons of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, inducing her to move to Auburn. The family’s close friendship with Tubman continued after the deaths of Frances and William.
This exhibit is made possible through the generosity and support of the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, a program of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Additional Summer Lectures, Events & Tours
Come to Seward House Museum for a summer of learning and family fun. Tours, lectures and the Museum’s annual Garden Party will make this a summer to remember.
The Brown Bag Lecture Series began Wednesday, June 30. Throughout the summer, visitors are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy talks covering a variety of historical topics including Civil War music, abolitionist Emily Howland, and 19th-century fans. Lectures are at noon on the following Wednesdays: July 14 & 28, and August 11 & 25. Admission is free and no registration is required.
On Saturday, July 10, Seward House Museum hosts a Garden Party and open house from 10AM – 5PM. Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours through 15 historic rooms, then stroll into the garden for crafts, Victorian lawn games, living history portrayals – including a dramatic presentation of 19th-century actress Charlotte Cushman, and a few more surprises. Admission is free.
Throughout the year, Seward House offers a special tour focusing on the women of the Seward family. Speaking for Themselves: Women of Seward House is held on the first Saturday of each month (July 3, August 7, September 4) at 1PM. The cost is the regular museum admission: $7-Adults; $6-AAA/Seniors/Military; $2-Students; Free-Children under 10. To register, please call (315) 252-1283. Group tours can also be arranged.
Tours are held Tuesday – Saturday, on the hour beginning at 10AM, with the last tour starting at 4PM. The Museum is also open Sunday afternoons (tours at 1, 2, 3, & 4PM) in the summer, beginning July 11. The museum is closed on major holidays. Please call (315) 252-1283 or visit www.sewardhouse.org for more information.
Seward House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, is located at 33 South Street in Auburn, New York. It was the home of William Henry Seward (1801-1872), governor of New York, a state and U.S. senator and secretary of state to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. As secretary of state under President Johnson, Seward negotiated the purchase of the Alaskan territory, derided by critics as “Seward’s Folly.”