Prudence Crandall Museum, Canterbury

Overview

Step into the home and academy of Connecticut's state heroine, Prudence Crandall, a pioneer in education for African-American women. Learn about Sarah Harris, the brave 20-year-old African-American woman who was unafraid to ask the difficult question. Crandall’s academy was the first in New England for “young ladies and little misses of color.” Discover the moral courage Crandall, Harris and the other students showed in the face of discrimination, and explore the issues of racism, sexism and injustice.


Historical Significance

Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) opened an academy on the Canterbury Green in 1831 to educate the daughters of wealthy local families. But she incurred their wrath the following year when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old African-American woman who wanted the education to become a teacher herself one day. Harris’ admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters from the school.

 

Crandall stood by her convictions, establishing New England's first school for African-American women in 1833, and attracting students from as far away as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. When the State of Connecticut responded later that year by passing the Black Law, making the school illegal, she endured a night in jail and three court trials before the case was dismissed in 1834. When a mob attacked the school two months later, Crandall was forced to close her academy.

 

The site is now a National Historic Landmark and a State Archaeological Preserve.

 

You can explore these features on the site:

  • Period Rooms — Watch a video that brings Prudence Crandall’s story to life, then walk in her and her students’ footsteps through four rooms where it all happened.
  • Exhibit Galleries — Learn about different aspects of Crandall’s story in a more in-depth way through three changing exhibit galleries on the second floor.
  • Gift Shop — Browse a wide selection of gifts and souvenirs, including historical reproductions, toys and games, and books for adults and children.
  • Research Library — Make an appointment to research Prudence Crandall, her students, civil rights history, abolition, racism, sexism and injustice. There is no charge to use the library.
  • Grounds Stroll the landscaped site that features gardens and stone walls.

Events & Exhibits

2018

May 12 (Saturday) 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Lives & Legacies: A Symposium – The Story Outlives the Canvas

Dr. Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut Draper Chair in American History, will speak about women in abolition, then sign copies of her book The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. Art Historian Lisa Joseph will give a presentation on artist Francis Alexander who painted Prudence Crandall’s portrait. Lynne McKenney Lydick will portray radical abolitionist and women’s and human rights advocate Abby Kelley Foster in the play Yours for Humanity – Abby. The symposium will be held at the Canterbury Community Center. Tickets are $25.

July 28 (Saturday) 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Music at Twilight

The acoustic band Burning Bridges will perform on the grounds. They describe themselves as a duo that brings you all the best music from multiple genres. Bring a lawn chair, a blanket, the family, and a friend or two to our annual community concert. Service animals only, please. In the event of rain, the concert will be held at the Canterbury Community Center. Free admission.

September 1 (Saturday) 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
32nd-Annual Prudence Crandall Day

Celebrate the 215th birthday of Connecticut’s state heroine on the grounds of the Prudence Crandall Museum. Enjoy crafts, demonstrations, live music by Coventry musical duo “Song-A-Day,” 19th-century children’s games on the lawn, vintage glass sale, and FREE admission to the Museum! The event takes place rain or shine. Food will be available for purchase until 3 pm by the Canterbury Lions Club, with a gluten-free birthday cake served at 3 pm at no cost. NEW THIS YEAR: In the spirit of Prudence Crandall’s commitment to education, the Museum will collect donations of school supplies (pencils/pens, calculators, notebooks, backpacks, crayons/markers, rulers, etc.) to support students in need at local schools.

Address

1 South Canterbury Road
Canterbury, CT 06331

Free parking

Mailing address: P.O. Box 58, Canterbury, CT 06331

Hours

  • May-October: Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • November-April: Monday-Friday by appointment

Admission

  • Ages 13 & older: $6
  • Ages 12 & younger: free
  • Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum: free
  • Groups: $5 per person for 10 or more people by appointment
  • School Groups: $2 per person by appointment

As a Blue Star Museum, we offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families.

Plan Your Visit

Learn more about the museum and the surrounding area at CTvisit.com.

Contact

crandall.museum@ct.gov

(860) 546-7800

 

Joan DiMartino, Museum Curator

joan.dimartino@ct.gov, 860-546-7800

Related Resources

Follow the museum on Facebook

 

Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum

 

Become a Volunteer

Schedule photography, filming, or other special events at the museum

Connecticut Public featured the Prudence Crandall Museum as one of the 50 most notable cultural resources in the state. Watch this 6-minute video now.

 

To All On Equal Terms: The Life and Legacy of Prudence Crandall brings the story of Connecticut’s State Heroine to life. Watch this 7-minute video now.

 

Prudence Crandall Research Resources at the Prudence Crandall Museum


Period Newspaper Resources at the Museum

 

Prudence Crandall Resources at Other Libraries and Museums

White Students, 1831-1833

Black Students, 1833-1834

Prudence Crandall's Supporters

 

Andrew Thompson Judson

First Trial Summary

Second Trial Summary

Third Trial Summary

 

Read indexed excerpts from the Boston-based Abolitionist newspaper The Liberator published by William Lloyd Garrison


Explore A Canterbury Tale: A Document Package for Connecticut’s Prudence Crandall Affair created by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition