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Underground Railroad History Project

Underground Railroad History Project

Mary Liz Stewart & Paul Stewart

The community impact of a historic site may not seem obvious at first. But the Underground Railroad History Project benefits its neighbors in many ways. It’s a destination site for American and international tourists, a center for community engagement and volunteerism, and contributes to the community’s pride of place, its history and heritage. The projectʼs founders are active in community revitalization projects, economic development efforts and even host a summer youth program. Pioneer Bank has proudly supported their efforts, as a financial partner, an advisor and participant in outreach and fundraising events.

The Underground Railroad History project is the vision of Mary Liz Stewart and Paul Stewart. What started as a historical study in 1998 led to an annual conference starting in 2002, and the eventual purchase and preservation of an historic Underground Railroad site in 2004. The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence at 194 Livingston Avenue in Albany is the only well-documented site in the region associated with the Underground Railroad and black abolitionist movement of the 1850s.

The Stewartsʼ mission is to draw lines of connection from past to present, illustrating the efforts of black abolitionists and their work on equity issues. Theyʼre reclaiming the Underground Railroad story, the very beginning of the civil rights movement, and telling it in the voices of people who are often written out of history – people like Stephen and Harriet Myers, who organized public support and helped runaway slaves earn their freedom.

The Stewarts say Pioneer Bank has been an extremely supportive partner. Beyond the basic checking and savings accounts required by not-for-profit organizations, Pioneerʼs employees offer on-the-ground involvement, not just in an advisory role but participation in planning events and even helping to prepare mailings. The level of care and personal service the Stewarts receive from Pioneer assures them they are treated with the same level of respect as much bigger organizations. “Pioneer Bank has helped extend our organizational outreach,” says Mary Liz Stewart. “Theyʼve brought in people who might not know about our project. Their support has never wavered.”

Learn more about the Underground Railroad History Project at www.undergroundrailroadhistory.org

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