Educational activities and curriculum materials for 7 Steps to Freedom are under development. Check back for updates, or send us your contact information under “Leave a Reply” if you would like to be notified when curriculum materials are available.
Edward Richardson served in the Civil War in the 22nd Regiment USCT (United States Colored Troops), reaching the rank of Sergeant. A former slave, Richardson was born October 15, 1841 on a plantation in Cecilton, Maryland. After escaping by means of the Underground Railroad to Salem County, where he was aided in his new life by Quakers, Richardson became a resident of Woodstown, New Jersey. He married Fannie Sturges in 1866 and they lived in a house on Bailey Street, just a few doors down from the Spencer U.A.M.E. Church where he is now buried. Until recently, only his family knew the exact location of his grave. But now Edward Richardson has a proper headstone, thanks to the efforts of his great-granddaughter Susan Richardson-Sanabria.
Susan Richardson-Sanabria learned that with proper documentation the government provides headstones for the unmarked graves of soldiers. She was able to provide Richardson’s enlistment and discharge papers and in July 2011 a headstone was erected. Read the Today’s Sunbeam story published July 24, 2011.
Edward Richardson’s Civil War enlistment paper.
Edward Richardson (wearing part of his Civil War uniform) and his wife Fanny Sturges on the occasion of their marriage.
Edward Richadson as an older man seated with his wife, Fannie Sturges. Behind are three of their daughters, (L-R) Abigail, Ella, and Sarah. The men are not family members, but are believed to be suitors.
Images courtesy of Susan Richardson-Sanabria
In these videos, eminent historians Dr. Clement A. Price and Dr. Spencer Crew discuss the history and significance of the Underground Railroad in America and South Jersey, specifically Salem County.
Dr. Clement A. Price is a professor of history at Rutgers University and the founder and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience. He is the author of many books and articles, including Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey and Many Voices, Many Opportunities: Cultural Pluralism and American Arts Policy.
Dr. Spencer Crew is past president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and currently the Robinson professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason University in Virginia. He is also author of numerous articles and books, including Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, NJ and Unchained Memories: Readings From The Slave Narratives.
c. 2011, Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Artist Wendel A. White photographed the historical sites and objects related to the 7 Steps to Freedom stories. White is known for taking photographs that evoke African American history.
Watch a video story showing the photographer on location in Salem County. Also interviewed for the story is historian James Turk of the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission. The story was produced by Susan Wallner.
Wendel A. White, photographer
Wendel A. White was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He was awarded a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. White taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
He has received various awards and fellowships including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography, two artist fellowships from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, a photography grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a New Works Photography Fellowship from En Foco Inc. His work is represented in museum and corporate collections including: the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Haverford College, PA; Johnson and Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ; Chase Manhattan Bank; the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art at University of Delaware; Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, WI; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY. In January 2003 the Noyes Museum of Art mounted a retrospective exhibition of the Small Towns, Black Lives project, including 13 years of images and an exhibition catalogue of the same title. The exhibition traveled to various venues through 2007.
Wendel has served on the board of directors for the Society for Photographic Education and was elected board chair from 1996 to 1999. He has served on the Kodak Educational Advisory Council and NJ Save Outdoor Sculpture. He is currently a board member of the New Jersey Black Culture and Heritage Foundation and in November of 2010, began a term as board chairman of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
His interest in electronic media led to the creation of a web-based presentation of the Small Towns, Black Lives project that went on-line in 1995 as a web site called The Cemetery (the images are now included in Small Towns, Black Lives at blacktowns.org). His current projects include: Schools for the Colored, Manifest, and 7 Steps to Freedom (a public art commission).
Harriet Martineau’s “Retrospect of Western Travel,” 1838, Owned by Abigail Goodwin
Salem, New Jersey, 2011
22” x 28”
Pigment Inkjet on Paper
John Whittier’s “The Stranger in Lowell,” 1845, Owned by Elizabeth Goodwin
Salem, New Jersey, 2011
22” x 28”
Pigment Inkjet on Paper
Thomas Clarkson’s “Abolition of the Slave Trade,” 1808, Owned by Elizabeth Goodwin
Salem, New Jersey, 2011
22” x 28”
Pigment Inkjet on Paper
The 7 Steps to Freedom cell phone tour, website, and photography were made possible by grants from:
The National Endowment for the Arts – www.nea.gov
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities – www.njch.org
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this media project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism – www.visitnj.org
The New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of the NJ Department of State – www.nj.gov/state/historical
The New Jersey State Council of the Arts, a Division of the NJ Department of State and a partner agency with the National Endowment for the Arts – www.state.nj.us/state/njsca
United Way of Salem County, Inc. – www.uwsalem.org
7 Steps to Freedom is an interpretive program using cellphones, mobile technology, and the internet to explore and experience African-American history and the Underground Railroad in Salem County, New Jersey. It is a production of the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission in partnership with the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting.
Alexandra Ford and Lamont Dixon are the actors heard in the stories.
Alexandra Mays Ford received training at Camden County College and Montclair State University in Voice and Diction, Movement and Acting. She has appeared in a number of theater productions at both institutions as well as the Spotlighters, Inc., Woodbury Sketch Club, Pig Iron Company and Collaborative Act. Most recently she portrayed “Oney Judge,” a slave in George Washington’s household, for Historic Philadelphia’s award-winning storytelling program, Once Upon a Nation. Judge’s story was about how her experiences in Philadelphia transformed her into a forward-thinking, freedom-wanting woman. Alexandra resides in Runnemede, New Jersey.
Lamont Dixon is a writer, poet, storyteller, and performance and teaching artist. As a teaching artist, Lamont has developed innovative Language Arts education programs: as a performer he collaborates frequently with dancers, visual artists, rappers, other storytellers and vocalists. He has experience as a first person interpreter, portraying Malcolm X in Fire & Fury: X in Oratory and Langston Hughes in A Walk Down Lennox Avenue. A New Jersey resident, Lamont has performed widely throughout the tri-state region. He is an instructor at the Perkins Center for the Arts, Playwrights Theater of New jersey, Young Audiences of New jersey, Philadelphia Arts and Education Partnership, and Arts Horizons.
- James F. Turk, Project Director
- Susan Wallner, Project Producer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PCK Media, LLC
- Sandra Mackenzie Lloyd, Audio Story Author (email@example.com)
- J. Harlan Buzby, Researcher
- Juan Carlos Rojas, Web Developer and Designer
- Nila Aronow, Executive Producer
Foundation for NJ Public Broadcasting
Academic Advisory Board
- Clement A. Price, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- Wendel A. White, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
- Sandra Mackenzie Lloyd, Historic Philadelphia, Inc.
- Sheri Jackson, National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program
- Timothy Hack, Salem Community College
- Janet Sheridan, independent scholar
Community Advisory Board
- J. Harlan Buzby
- Philip Correll
- Reverend Edward Dorn
- Elaine Edwards
- David T. Lindenmuth
- Donald L. Pierce
- Ivy Quinton
- Utausha Rivera
Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders
- Julioe A. Acton, Director
- Dale A. Cross, Deputy Director
- Bruce L. Bobbitt
- Benjamin H. Laury
- Beth E. Timberman
- Bob Vanderslice
- Lee Ware
Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Department of Cultural Affairs and Tourism
- Tom Mason, Chair
- Tatiana Mulhorn, Vice Chair
- Annette Devitt, Secretary
- Harry P. Salmon, Jr., Treasurer
- Heather Bryceland
- Christina Cottman Pierangeli
- Donald Pierce
- B. Harold Smick, Jr.
- Nancy Thomas
- Lee Ware, Freeholder Liaison
Humanitarian work shaped the lives of the Goodwin sisters, Elizabeth (1789-1860) and Abigail (1793-1867). Daughters of a Quaker farmer who had freed, or manumitted, all his slaves during the American Revolution (1), both sisters were founding members of the Female Benevolent Society of Salem, NJ, an organization dedicated to aiding the poor, infirm and elderly (2).
In the 1830s, Abigail emerged as an active figure in the Underground Railroad movement. The sisters, now fervent abolitionists, came into contact with leading anti-slavery figures, including William Still, Lucretia Mott, and orator James Miller McKim, who came to Salem to lecture as their guest. His program, however, attracted a mob of anti-abolitionists who pelted the Goodwin house with sticks and rocks (3).
If anything, the attack deepened the sisters’ commitment. From then on their home became a prominent beacon for freedom seekers, providing shelter, clothing, food, and funds as they were able. When Amy Reckless (see: “How one woman set herself free”) returned to Salem, she partnered with the Goodwin sisters in collecting goods and financial contributions.
Because of her frank and eloquent writings, Abigail is better known than Elizabeth. Many of Abigail’s letters and a portrait were published in William Still’s pioneering work, The Underground Rail Road, in 1872 (4). Only Abigail lived to see slavery abolished as they had both desired. The sisters rest in the historic Salem Friends Burial Ground, not far from the Black poet Hetty Saunders’ grave (see: “Poet Hetty Saunders describes her escape”).
In 2008, the Goodwin Sisters House on Market Street in Salem was designated the as the first site in New Jersey accepted into the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. The house is also a site on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail (5).
(1) Joan N. Burstyn, ed., Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women, Metuchen, NJ: NJ Women’s History Project, 1996, 65.
(2) Minutes of the Salem Female Benevolent Society, Salem, NJ, 1817 – 1947, ms, Salem County Historical Society, Salem, NJ
(3) The Freeman’s Banner, Salem, NJ, Vol. 4, No.1, June 28, 1837.
(4) Still stated that Abigail Goodwin was “one of the rare, true friends to the Underground Rail Road” who “worked for the slave as a mother would work for her children” (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872, 620-621).
(5) Deborah Marquis Kelly and Ellen Freedman Schultz, New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail, Trenton, NJ: NJ Department of Environmental Protection, n.d., 63.
Amy Hester Reckless (1793-1881) was enslaved by one of Salem County’s wealthiest families, but took action to liberate herself and her children, and then to help others gain their freedom.
She was the daughter of Dorcas Boadley, who belonged to Jane Gibbon Johnson. Upon Johnson’s death, her son, Col. Robert G. Johnson assumed ownership. The Colonel, his family, and their servants lived in Johnson Hall, the elaborate house he designed and built in 1807 at 90 Market St. in Salem, NJ. After his first wife’s death, Johnson married Julianna Zantzinger in 1813. Her father was a slaveholder in Lancaster, PA, and she was noted for her beauty and wealth. However, her harsh treatment of Amy Reckless also gained notoriety. It caused Reckless to flee with her child to Philadelphia, where she sought the aid of the Abolition Society.
An Abolition Society member wrote that “the immediate cause that induced Amy to leave R. Johnston [sic] I have understood was severe usage by Roberts wife of which a physician in the Town of Salem is aware.”(1) Reckless claimed that she had been freed by Col. Johnson’s mother, however, documentation of her manumission appears to have been lacking. The Colonel sought her return, but she refused.
While in the city she worked with the Female Anti-Slavery Society; she cherished a photograph of the Society’s members until her death. It was not until after the Colonel died in 1850 that she came back to Salem. She resided on Market St. just a short distance from Johnson Hall (2). She continued her anti-slavery activities here, working with Abigail Goodwin to support freedom seekers (3). When she died, her treasured effects included an abolitionist flag, “inscribed with strong language expressive of the sentiments of anti-slavery workers” – of which she was one (4).
(1) Letter. Isaac Barton, Philadelphia, to John G. Mason, Salem, NJ, 5/26/1826, ms, Salem County Historical Society, Salem, NJ.
(2) Reckless lived in the home of Eliza Clement, the wife of Abigail and Elizabeth Goodwin’s half-brother Samuel.
(3) Goodwin wrote that “Amy is very good in helping, and is collecting clothing,” and personally donated money to the cause. William Still, The Underground Rail Road, Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1877, 622.
(4) “Death of a Colored Centenarian – Mrs. Hester Reckless,” Public Ledger, Philadelphia, January 29,1881.