Black history lives at Sandy Ground
Woodrow site was home to country's oldest free black settlement
Sunday, April 24, 2005 ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
The Sandy Ground Historical Society runs an 11-year-old museum that has the largest documentary collection of African-American culture and history on Staten Island.
The country's oldest free black settlement, with the descendants of the original settlers still living there, Sandy Ground was founded in the early 19th century by freed black men from New York who started a farming community. In the mid-19th century, they were joined by free black oyster fishermen from Maryland and Delaware.
The museum preserves material related to the historic town, which was a way station on the Underground Railroad. Letters, photographs, film, art, rare books, quilts and other archaeological artifacts are among the collection.
The highlights include a rare surviving can of Tettersalve, a beauty product manufactured by Harlem businesswoman Madame C. J. Walker, and a letter from W.E.B. DuBois.
The museum has sponsored arts-and-crafts sessions, a musical heritage series, a lecture series presented in Island schools and churches, and a traveling lecture series to institutions around the country.
Ongoing quilting workshops maintain the African-American quilt-making tradition.
The museum also serves as an educational research facility chartered by the state Department of Education.
The society is located at 1538 Woodrow Rd., in Woodrow. Spring and summer hours are Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Winter hours are Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and by appointment. Call the museum at (718) 317-5796 for information.
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