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Presented on Friday, February 21 as part of Messiah College’s 2020 Humanities Symposium. This exhibit, “Vulnerabilities & Securities in Historic Harrisburg: From Abolition to Suffrage,” was produced by the Center for Public Humanities Student Fellows and Dr. Sarah Myers’s Public History Class.

Jane Morris Chester was born enslaved in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 5, 1801. Around 1828, she escaped enslavement and made a treacherous journey north to Harrisburg, where she married George Chester. After George’s death in 1859, Jane, fondly called “Aunty” by Harrisburg citizens, continued to operate the restaurant and opened a premier catering business for Harrisburg elites, including events for two Pennsylvania governors. Using funds from her business, Jane purchased a home in the Old Eighth Ward at 305 Chester Street, where she hosted meetings and dinners with many important people from across the nation. Jane was also renowned by locals for her homemade taffy.

This poster was edited by Dr. Jean Corey, Katie Wingert, and Dr. Sarah Myers.

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Digital Harrisburg, women, urban, diversity, multicultural, Messiah College, Messiah University, Pennsylvania


African American Studies | United States History | Women's History

Abolitionist Aunty: Jane Chester