Prudence Crandall Museum
National Historic Landmark
State Archaeological Preserve
First academy in New England for African-American women
Home and school of Connecticut's State Heroine
Reproduction period dress sewn by Museum Guide Lisa Joseph
This dress will be displayed as part of the Museum's new hands-on exhibit interpreting the life of Elizabeth Douglass Bustill, one of Prudence Crandall's African-American students. Elizabeth came from a prominent Quaker family from Philadelphia. In addition to the costume, the exhibit will include a reproduction 19th century trunk (fabricated by students from Ella Grasso Technical School in Groton) and reproduction items representative of what a 19th century student might have brought with them to Crandall's boarding school. These items have been purchased with funds provided by Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum, Inc.
Connecticut Public Television's series Connecticut's Cultural Treasures features the Prudence Crandall Museum as one of the 50 most notable cultural resources in the state.
Click here to watch the 6-minute program.
On April 13, 2013, the Prudence Crandall Museum was given the Juneteenth Douglass-Garrison Award by the Juneteenth Committee of Fairfield County in recognition of the Museum's continued support of the study of slavery, resistance, abolition, and human rights.
Pictured here at the Awards Dinner (left to right):
Drew Crandall, representing the Crandall family
Kazimiera Kozlowski, Museum Curator
Joyce Stevos & Nancy Goncalves, representing the Fayerweather family
Chuck & Judy Piper, representing the Harris family
Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) opened an academy on the Canterbury Green in 1831 to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful until the following fall when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old black woman. Sarah had hoped to become a teacher with the help of the education the academy could provide. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, Sarah's admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters.
Miss Crandall made contacts throughout the northeast's free black communities to attract young black women students. They came from as far away as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. The State responded by passing the "Black Law" which made it illegal for Miss Crandall to operate her school. Miss Crandall was arrested, spent a night in jail, and faced three court trials. The case was dismissed in July of 1834. Two months later a mob attacked the school, forcing Miss Crandall to close. The courage shown by Miss Crandall, our State's official heroine, features prominently in civil rights history. The "Black Law" was repealed in 1838.
The museum includes period rooms, changing exhibits, a small research library (available by appointment for in-house study), and a gift shop. The museum's first floor is fully accessible.
1 South Canterbury Road, Canterbury, CT 06331 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ 860-546-7800