The New York Times

Finding Traces of Harriet Tubman on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

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Article

A historian marks the 200th birthday of a fearless conductor of the Underground Railroad with a visit to her birthplace, only to learn how climate change is washing away memories of “the ultimate outdoors woman.”

History

Of the many feats Harriet Tubman accomplished, none awe me more as an historian than the estimated 13 trips she made to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Each time, she stole family and friends from enslavement much in the way Tubman first secreted herself away to freedom in 1849. Born on the Eastern Shore, Tubman grew into a fearless conductor along the perilous routes of the Underground Railroad, guiding enslaved people on journeys that extended hundreds of miles to the north, ending on the free soil of Pennsylvania, New York and Canada.

This year commemorates the 200th anniversary of her birth and tributes to Tubman abound, including those set in the landscape of her native Dorchester County. I headed to the Eastern Shore to learn how people there remember this Black American freedom fighter, only to discover that the rising waters of climate change are washing away the memories of Tubman that are embedded in the coastal marshland she knew so well.

Afternoon Light