Uncovered: Sojourner Truth's Quest for Liberty and Justice

Date and Time
Tuesday, October 4, 2022, 6:30 - 8 PM
End times are approximate. Events may end early or late.


Fully accessible to wheelchairs
Free Event
Event Details

Against a sepia colored background, there is handwritten text. There is a gold seal on the left side. On top of the handwritten type on the right side is a head shot of  Sojourner Truth.

Join us as we recount Sojourner Truth’s legal battle to liberate her son from slavery and the recent recovery of those court records.

About This Event | In-Person

Join scholars, archivists, and curators as they revisit the story of Sojourner Truth’s inspiring life, tell the exciting story of how the long-lost court records from her fight to liberate her son from slavery were recovered in 2022, and discuss the important role of archives in the preservation of documents and the teaching of history to future generations.

Sojourner Truth was an iconic activist who was born into slavery but courageously opted to self-liberate. Shortly after she freed herself, she began the process of restoring her family. Undaunted by societal norms and biases, Truth went to court in Ulster County, New York, in 1828 to sue for her son's freedom. She won her case, becoming the first Black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man to secure a family member's freedom. While the records of this historic case were preserved for some time, they were lost for much of the ensuing 200 years — only to be recovered in 2022.

This program will feature the following speakers and discussants:

Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University

Paul O’Neill, Esq., Commissioner of Jurors, Ulster County

Thomas J. Ruller, NYS Archivist

Dr. Michelle Commander, Deputy Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

A pop-up exhibit featuring the 1828 court records and other compelling items from Sojourner Truth's life and times will also be on view.

This event will be live streamed on the Schomburg Center's YouTube channel as well.

This is event is brought to you by the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture, the Historical Society of the New York Courts, the New York State Archives, and the New York State Unified Court System.

About the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery | The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, founded in 2014 with a generous $2.5 million gift from Ruth and Sid Lapidus, generates and disseminates scholarly knowledge and works on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery pertaining to the Atlantic World. The Center supports the work of researchers with long-term and short-term fellowships. Given the centrality of Atlantic slavery to the making of the modern world, Lapidus fellowships ensure that slavery studies are a cornerstone of the Schomburg Center’s broader research community. The Center engages the public with a variety of programs, an annual nonfiction book prize, exhibitions, conferences, and partnerships with local, national, and international institutions. To learn more about the Lapidus Center, please visit https://www.nypl.org/spotlight/lapidus-center.

PRESS | Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Leah Drayton at leahdrayton@nypl.org.

Assistive Listening and ASL
ASL interpretation and real-time (CART) captioning available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing accessibility@nypl.org.