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Possessing Harriet

A Play by Kyle Bass

Commissioned by Onondaga Historical Association

In 1839, Harriet Powell, a young, mixed-raced, enslaved woman slips away from a hotel in Syracuse, New York and escapes, finding temporary safe harbor in the home of impassioned abolitionist Gerrit Smith in Peterboro, NY. With the slave catchers in pursuit, Harriet spends the hours before her nighttime escape to Canada in the company of Smith's young cousin Elizabeth Cady, an outspoken advocate for women's equality. As both women confront new and difficult ideas about race, identity, and equality. Harriet is forced to the preipice of a radical reckoning with the heartrending cost of freedom. 


The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, Peterboro NY, has arranged an event for the play:

Saturday, July 13, 2019

11:00 Norman K. Dann PhD speaks in The Barn and on the mansion site where Harriet Powell spent her last night in the U.S

12:30 Coach departs Peterboro. Enroute Dann continues to provide background on characters in the play. Film on Bass. 

2:45 Coach arrives at Franklin Stage Company, 25 Institute Street, Franklin NY 13775

3:00 Possessing Harriet Matinee Performance

7:00 Coach returns to Peterboro


$55 reservation includes programs, play, transport, and dornation for preservation of stable.

Reserve by check or money order by June 30 with name, email, phone, and postal address to:

Smithfield Community Assn
PO Box 6
Peterboro, Ny 13134

Reward Poster Courtesy Onondaga Historical Association Syracuse NY

Gregg Tripoli, Director of the Onondaga Historical Association, commissioned playwright Kyle Bass to write a play about the circumstance of this poster in the OHA collection.  That play Possessing Harriet will be in its second production in late July at the Franklin Stage Company Franklin NY.




The Barn, Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark Peterboro NY

This is the barn at the Gerrit Smith Estate from which Harriet Powell left for Canada after escaping her owners in Syracuse. The Estate has arranged a program in the stables before a coach leaves for the play Possessing Harriet on Saturday, July 13.









About Us 

Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark

5304 Oxbow Rd.        PO Box 6      Peterboro, NY 13134

Exterior Exhibits Open Dawn Till Dusk All Year.

Open for Special Events and by appointment.
Adult Admission $5; Students and 2018 members and volunteers are Free
For more information and to check updates on programs:
(315)-280-8828                                  www.gerritsmith.org                  info@gerritsmith.org


5255 Pleasant Valley Rd.                  PO Box 55                          Peterboro, NY 13134
Adult Admission $5; Students and 2018members and volunteers are Free

Open for Special Events and by appointment.
(315)-280-8828                      www.nationalabolitionhalloffameandmuseum.org                 nahofm1835@gmail.com


The GSENHL is a site on the National Park Service Network to Freedom (national Underground Railroad trail) and the I LOVE NY LGBT Trail.

Both GSENHL and NAHOF are sites on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail, a program of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Peterboro Mercantile
Books, tees, mugs, stationery, jewelry, etc. related to Peterboro history.
5304 Oxbow Road                     P.O Box 6                 Peterboro, NY 13134

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