Maryland Emancipation Day 2017 Celebrations

November 1, 1864 marked a pivotal day in Maryland’s history when a new state constitution freed all those held in bondage within its boundaries. The decision made Maryland one of the earliest states to abolish slavery – a full year ahead of the 13th Amendment.

In celebration of this landmark day – known as Emancipation Day in Maryland – there are a number of events happening across Montgomery County during the weekend of November 3-5, 2017. These include activities centered on sharing the history of slavery in Maryland through live demonstrations, guided tours and educational exhibitions.

Special Night Hike: Voices of the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad Experience Trail at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park shares what it was like for runaway slaves in the 1800’s traveling through Montgomery County. Learn about the secret routes and safe houses that brought them to freedom in the North.

WHEN: Friday, November 3, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
WHERE: Woodlawn Cultural Park
16501 Norwood Road
Sandy Spring, MD 20860

$5, pre-registration is required; tickets are not available onsite.

There will also be guided hikes on Saturday, November 4 (9:30 a.m.10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) and Sunday, November 5 (10 a.m.); registration requested.

Woodlawn Museum Open House

As part of Emancipation Day, the Woodlawn Museum at Woodlawn Cultural Park will be hosting a two-day open house. Built in a 19th century stone barn, the Woodlawn Museum features multimedia exhibits that highlight the area’s agricultural landscape, the Underground Railroad, local free black communities and the Quaker experience in Montgomery County, revealed through the lives of the Woodlawn’s residents and enslaved laborers.

WHEN: Saturday – Sunday, November 4-5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Woodlawn Cultural Park
16501 Norwood Road
Sandy Spring, MD 20860

Oakley Cabin African American Museum & Park

An African American roadside community lived and worked on this historic site from emancipation well into the 20th century. Their culture and traditions heavily influenced those of surrounding communities, and their story is deeply woven into Montgomery County’s rich history. At the center of this site is Oakley Cabin, a 1½-story oak and chestnut log cabin which was inhabited until 1976 and now serves as a living history museum. On Saturday, November 4, they will have live music and demonstrations to celebrate Emancipation Day.

WHEN: Saturday, November 4, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park
3610 Brookeville Road
Olney, MD 20832

Sandy Spring Slave Museum & African Art Gallery Open House

Join the Sandy Spring Slave & African Art Gallery at its Emancipation Day open house. There will be a cabin tour, exhibitions on slavery and a performance of Sounds of the Caribbean Art Form (SOCA) – a combination of calypso, blues and gospel. They will also present a movie titled, “Community Cornerstones,” about Montgomery County’s historic black churches.

WHEN: Saturday, November 4, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Sandy Spring Slave Museum
18524 Brooke Road
Sandy Spring, MD 20860

Harper Cabin at Brookside Nature Center

Visit the Harper Cabin to learn how and where post-emancipation African American families lived in Montgomery County. Tour and demonstrations will take place on Saturday and Sunday, November 4-5.

WHEN: Saturday – Sunday, November 4-5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., respectively.
WHERE: Brookside Nature Center
1400 Glenallan Ave.
Wheaton, Maryland 20902

Josiah Henson Park

Josiah Henson Park is the former plantation property where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. This park is a historic resource of local, state, national and international significance because of its association with Reverend Henson, whose 1849 autobiography, the Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The park is currently open only during a limited number of dates each season. During the open house over Emancipation Day weekend, the park will be open and free to the public.

WHEN: Sunday, November 5, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Josiah Henson Park
11420 Old Georgetown Road
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Button Farm Living History Center Open House

The historic Button Farm, home to the Menare Foundation, is Maryland’s only living history center depicting 19th century slave plantation life and the heroic story of the Underground Railroad through its unique living history experiences. Situated on 40-acres inside of Seneca Creek State Park in Germantown, the park will host an open house on Sunday, November 5 from noon to 4 p.m.

WHEN: Sunday, November 5, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Button Farm Living History Center
16820 Black Rock Road
Germantown, MD 20874

For more information on heritage sites around the county, visit

“This Project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.”