At the request of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, Norm Dann will be presenting a series of eight programs on Abolition, the Underground Railroad, Women’s Rights, and Optimism: The Gerrit and Ann Smith Family of Peterboro NY and the Crusade for Human Rights on Wednesdays from 4 pm to 6 pm beginning August 4 and ending September 22, 2021:


Session 1:            August 4, 2021  Peter Smith: Furs, Land, and Anguish examines Peter, the land speculator partner of John Jacob Astor, who dealt with Native Americans to establish a land sales business in the late 1700s in upstate New York. Although selfish and avaricious, Peter laid the financial foundation for the future human rights work of the Gerrit and Ann Smith family.


Session 2             August 11, 2021               The Era and the Issues is a survey of social life in19th Century America with emphasis placed on racism and sexism. Black people were considered to be biologically inferior to white people, and incapable of fulfilling roles outside of slavery. Women were thought to be inferior mentally and physically, and fit only for roles in the domestic sphere.


Session 3             August 18, 2021               Gerrit Smith: The Practical Dreamer examines Gerrit’s benevolence and philanthropy in his pursual of human rights movements. Gerrit operated the land sales business started by Peter in order to have the resources to lubricate social change in the direction of equitable treatment of all persons. 


Session 4             August 25, 2021               Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith: Support Services Agent scrutinizes Ann’s support of Gerrit’s human rights activism while acting as a “First Lady” in their home that served as a group therapy center for human rights activists.


Session 5             September 1, 2021         Elizabeth Smith Miller: Quiet Advocate examines Elizabeth’s growing up with cousin Elizabeth Cady (Stanton) and working together to pursue equal rights for women. For Miller the issues of dress reform and suffrage were primary, especially in connection with her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller.


Session 6             September 8, 2021         Greene Smith: Rebel and Outdoorsman illustrates Greene’s life as an example of the clash in the mid-1800s between religion and science – the sacred and secular. After achieving national recognition as an ornithologist and sportsman, Greene died at an early age.


Session 7             September 15, 2021       Cousins of Reform: Smith and Stanton who were the two most powerful leaders of the two most important social movements for human rights in American history, both of whom received their inspiration in Peterboro NY.


Session 8             September 22, 2021 The Underground Railroad is an examination of the moral significance of the Underground Railroad as a process of achieving freedom, including the reasons for escaping, the risks incurred, and the efficacy of the attempt to escape.


Norman K. Dann PhD, professor emeritus SUNY Morrisville, is the head docent at the Gerrit Smith Estate, a founder of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, and the author of nine books on Peterboro including biographies of the Smith family. 


The public is invited to partake of one, a few, or all of the free Dann sessions at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134. Publications aligned with the programs are available at each session and by contacting info@gerritsmith.org. For more information and updates: www.GerritSmith.org, info@gerritsmith.org, or 315- 380-9389

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