African American residents have long played a crucial role in the development of Prince George’s County, but for centuries, these essential community members were enslaved. The Underground Railroad was an avenue through which many of these people sought self-emancipation — and Maryland was the site of key portions of these rescue routes. While Prince George’s was often a place from which enslaved people escaped, it had close and constant ties to the powerful system. Through the National Park Service Network to Freedom, many of these sites have been investigated and protected.
Visit one of these historic sites in Prince George’s to learn more:
- At the Marietta House Museum in Glenn Dale, you’ll find a replica of the home and land where multiple generations of families, both free and enslaved, lived and labored. The 600-acre property shows how these families lived through the Federal Era, the Antebellum years, the Civil War period, Jim Crow, and Reconstruction. The library in the museum holds an extensive collection of county census records, slave statistics, records, and newspaper archives.
- In Bowie, the Belair Mansion offers a look into life in the region from 1747 through 1950. This 18th-century house was once home to two Maryland governors and a noted 20th-century Thoroughbred owner, and it is home to an array of historic objects. Historians have found records of numerous enslaved people who have moved through or interacted with the home.
- The Northampton Plantation and Slave Quarters in Bowie was owned by the Sprigg family from 1800 to 1830, and it has since been rebuilt to show the foundations of two slave quarters. Visitors will find detailed information at the site about the lives of the enslaved people who lived on the land for nearly 200 years, the many people who escaped from the plantation, and the free descendants who lived on it through 1940.
- A trip to the Riversdale House Museum will transport you back into the daily life of residents in the early 1800s. This Federal-period manor and gardens offers tours to the public, and it brings to life the stories of enslaved and free African Americans.
- Darnell’s Chance House Museum was built in 1742 and opened as a museum in 1988. It served as the home for many tobacco merchants, and it now conveys to visitors the details of life for colonial women, including free and enslaved residents. Historians have found records of multiple enslaved people who escaped Darnall’s Chance.
- At the Elizabeth Keckly Burial Site, you’ll learn about Keckly’s efforts to support newly emancipated people who were previously enslaved and sought refuge in the Washington, D.C., area. She raised funds and collected donations to benefit the community.
- Learn about the Plummer Family when you visit the Riversdale Historical Society. Plummer was moved from a plantation in Calvert to the region, and his diaries provide a unique and powerful look into the time.
- Enslaved people worked for decades at the plantation that was once on the grounds of the Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park. The owner of the plantation listed advertisements in the local paper for enslaved people who had run away from the land. Today, you’ll find remnants of over 8,000 years of human history at the site.
- The Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm were once home to the Berry Farm, where back-breaking labor was done by enslaved workers to cultivate crops. At least one person is known to have escaped from the farm, and the owner placed advertisements to attempt to find the person.
Learn more about historic farm life and cultural heritage in Prince George’s.