Just in time for the grand opening of a visitors center celebrating her early life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Harriet Tubman has a new look.

A previously undocumented photograph has emerged from the ether of history, showing the Underground Railroad “conductor” in her younger days — slim, impeccably dressed and confident.

“I’m so excited because it shows her so young and beautifully dressed,” said Kate Clifford Larson, a historian and author of a Tubman biography. “She’s strong. It’s just amazing.”

“To find this photograph after all these years really contextualizes a different aspect of her life,” said Robert Parker, superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park. “You see her as this beautiful, resilient and determined young woman.”

The photograph’s discovery, disclosed earlier this month by a New York auction house selling the artifact on behalf of its owner, comes at an auspicious time for the National Park Service. The Church Creek historical park, which opened in 2015, is set to open its visitors center March 11.

The photograph resurfaced too late for it to be referenced among the 17-acre facility’s exhibits, Parker said. He hopes the winner of the March 30 auction turns out to be a public institution that allows the park to put it on display, either temporarily or permanently.

Only a handful of photographs of the abolitionist and activist are known to exist, Larson said.

Born in southern Dorchester County, Tubman was enslaved for 30 years before escaping in 1849 to Philadelphia. She returned over and over again, leading dozens of slaves to freedom in the North during a 10-year-period. For her efforts, she became known as “Moses” by African-American and white abolitionists.

Last year, the Treasury Department announced plans to make Tubman the new face of the $20 bill.

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SOURCE: Jeremy Cox
The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times