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Reginald F.

Lewis Museum Heritage Gallery Guide

Welcome to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum! The Reginald F. Lewis Museum collects and documents the
history and culture of Maryland African Americans from the 1600’s to modern day times. In the
museum’s permanent collection visitors can view artifacts, art, photographs and stories about Maryland
African Americans that describe their contributions, heritage and the difficulties that they had to


Take some time to learn about the museum’s collection by spending 10-15 minutes in each gallery.
Listed below are some exhibits or artifacts to locate and check out during your visit.

Building Maryland, Building America Gallery- Visitors can explore the contributions in labor by
Maryland African Americans from slavery to the present.

A. BUILDING OUR NATION- Africans were brought to Maryland in the 1600’s as indentured
servants and later as slaves to build the wealth of landowners. Slave labor would come in many
forms to help build the state. Find the following artifacts:
Slave Shackle-This slave shackle was found at a plantation farm in Prince Georges, MD
where tobacco was grown. African slaves were originally brought to Maryland to grow

Based on this slave shackle, what do you think life was like for a slave?

HERITAGE FACT- Did you know that many enslaved Africans were experts in iron
making. Traditions in metal making date back to early African civilizations. Maryland
emerged as one of the world’s leading iron producers because of the skill and labor of
these individuals.

Locate the Statue of Freedom- Placing the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol dome
took many years and the hard work of many people. Phillip Reid and other Maryland
enslaved workers helped to cast and install the statue on the nation’s building. For his
skilled labor, Phillip Reid was paid $1.25 a day whereas other labors were paid a $1 a day.

How do you think Phillip Reid must have felt about his own lack of freedom while
helping to install the Statue of Freedom for others?
What would you choose as a symbol to represent freedom?

Sketch your own Statue of Freedom.

B. BLACKS ON THE WATER- African American Marylanders helped build the Chesapeake Bay
seafood industry. Since the 1900’s, most of the workers in crab and oyster processing businesses
along the bay have been African Americans.

HERITAGE FACT- Did you know that oystering, crabbing, fishing, sailing, boat building, and
netmaking were ancient skills in Africa. Work on the water has a long tradition among Africans
and African Americans.

Role Play: Imagine that you are a waterman on the Eastern Shore on a boat oystering
like the images in the gallery. Try closing the oyster tongs at least three times at the
oystering interactive. Imagine using the same tongs all day to catch oysters in cold
water on a winter day. How difficult or easy is the work of a waterman?

Watch the short video on the seafood industry. How did working in the seafood industry help
black families? Why do you think this job bring a sense of pride and independence for African
Americas after the end of slavery?

Locate the drawing of Downes Curtis the sail maker. Name the 3
types of boats that he created sails for: ___________________
_______________________ ___________________
Strength of the Mind Gallery-Visitors can explore the contributions of Maryland African Americans in
the arts and education.

A. Plantation Quilt (Harriet Tubman) - Quilting was one of the few ways African Americans could
record their past history and present life. Quilter Elizabeth Scott created this quilt about Harriet
Tubman and the slaves who escaped using the Underground Railroad.
Enslaved people would sometimes communicate in secret code during their escape.
Identify some of the codes or messages that you think are included on the quilt.

What secret code would you design for this quilt? Sketch your design it in the block.
Check out the For Whom It Stands Flag Quilt created by quilter Joan Gaither. What does
freedom mean to you?

B. Music on Pennsylvania Avenue- Back in the day people would travel to Pennsylvania
Avenue in Baltimore to be entertained in the theaters with a variety of great music.
You would hear blues, jazz, gospel, rhythm & blues and soul music. Pennsylvania
Avenue was a great sense of pride for the black community for its entertainment.

Many famous jazz entertainers came from Maryland and performed on Pennsylvania
Avenue. Which jazz musician is known for the following:

Who am I? Who am I?
I lived to be 100 years old. I am known for playing My band won the “Battle of the Bands” for almost
ragtime music and a Broadway play was created a decade. I am known for playing swing music and
about my life. was the greatest drummer of all time.
____________________ _______________________

Who am I? Who am I?
I used music to express my feelings and emotions. I I was the first woman bandleader to own and
performed at opera houses and concert halls in manage an all-male band in this United States. My
Europe. brother was also a famous jazz musician.
___________________________ _______________________

HERITAGE FACT- Did you know that Africans arrived in Maryland during the 17th and 18th centuries
with ancient traditions in science, music, art, medicine and invention.

C. Benjamin Banneker the Black Father of Science- Benjamin Banneker was a free black man who
lived during colonial times in Baltimore County. He was a self-taught scientist and inventor.
What science did he teach himself? What did he invent? What book did he
published? Circle all the correct answers.

Chemistry Cotton Gin Biology Wooden Clock

Telescope Astronomy Radio Telephone Book
Almanac Traffic Light Dictionary Physics

Benjamin Banneker sent a copy of his almanac to Thomas Jefferson and wrote him a letter
confronting his views about African Americans. What do you think Banneker was trying to prove
to Jefferson about African Americans during his times?

Things Hold, Lines Connect Gallery- In this gallery, the museum documents the importance of family as
well as the organizations, and that towns were founded by the African American community in

HERITAGE FACT- Africans were brought to the Americas beginning in the 1500s. Did you know most
came from ancient societies in which family networks and community played important roles.

A. Dorsey Family- The Dorsey Family has lived in Maryland for almost two hundred years beginning
with slavery and through the Civil Rights Movement.
What artifact is on display belonging to Isaac Dorsey which talks about slavery? What do you
think was contained in this artifact?
What picture is on display that shows James Dorsey during the Civil Rights Movement? Hint:
Look for a famous Civil Rights leader.
Who is the oldest living relative in your family?

B. The Underground Railroad and Family-For enslaved people who

sought freedom through flight, family and community were essential.
Family members on plantations and in towns could feed and hide

Check out the Underground Railroad Interactive and identify the

different ways enslaved people planned their escapes.

C. African American Towns, Neighborhoods and Vacation Resorts-After the Civil

War, nearly 200,000 African Americans lived in Maryland. Unwelcome in most white
communities, these black Marylanders built towns and neighborhoods across the state.
Name some of the black towns and beaches that were established in Maryland.

________________ __________________ __________________

Highland Beach-Today the streets of Highland Beach bear the names of famous African
Americans. Name who founded Highland Beach in 1892. What famous African American was he
related to?