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New York Central College

The story of New York Central College is an almost forgotten piece of history. Throughout this exhibit we hope to open your eyes to something that should be a point of pride for the Central New York area. Opened in 1849 the college was one of the first schools to experiment with a radical theory that was way ahead of the rest of the country. This college would educate white, non-white, and women all at the same time, pushing the boundaries even more by hiring black professors. The school did not try to hide who was benefiting from this education and the college was very publicized during the time the college was active in positive and negative light locally. The curriculum included agriculture, classics, languages, mathematics, science, rhetoric, and philosophy. During the college’s existence from 1849 until 1858 some of the most important boiling points of the pre-civil war era were taking place. Events like the compromise of 1850, The Fugitive Slave Act, and the bloody conflicts in Kansas all revolved around the issues of slavery and the equal co-existence of humans. The college proved that people were able to learn with one another as brothers, sisters regardless of the color of their skin. The college attracted people who were not only New Yorkers but students from all over the globe, such as Canada, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and West Africa. While Central New York College was short-lived it churned out important scientific and cultural figures. They include Asaph Hall, who discovered the moons of Mars; Mary Edmonia Lewis a widely mainstream neoclassical sculptor, as well as the Edmonson sisters who became prominent abolitionists. Today all that is left of the radical college is a cemetery housing some students who died during the smallpox epidemic, a twenty-foot banister that was salvaged from the demolition of the school, and a boarding hall.

The Sons and Daughters of Freedom


Context about free communities here.