Harriet Tubman: A Special Resource Study of an American Icon

By Erin M. McGinn |

"In the fall of 2000, in Public Law 106-516, the “Harriet Tubman Special Resource Study Act,” the 106th Congress authorized a Special Resource Study of the sites associated with Harriet Tubman, with the intent of identifying an appropriate site or sites to recognize Harriet Tubman. This study is being carried out by the National Park Service. At the completion of the Study the National Park Service will make recommendations ranging from a unit in the National Park System to a National Heritage Corridor for Congress to consider. 

This thesis has taken on aspects of the Harriet Tubman Special Resource Study. It looks into the life of Harriet Tubman, summarizing the broad themes that make her an important figure in the history of the United States. The current sites designated for their connection with Harriet Tubman are examined, in addition to the other sites listed in the legislation authorizing the Study. Also, further research was conducted to describe and evaluate other sites associated with Harriet Tubman that have a documented connection to her. 

The purpose of this thesis is to find a site or a combination of sites that tells the story of Harriet Tubman, and serves her legacy. To do this, different approaches in interpretation are consulted through viewing how related sites have interpreted the themes that span Tubman’s life. In addition, various forms of National Park Service designations and protection are weighed. Once these steps are carried out a recommendation is made. 

This thesis concludes by proposing to designate a site to serve as a tangible resource to Harriet Tubman, where the American public can learn about her life and her many contributions to United States history."

McGinn, Erin M. (2004). Harriet Tubman: A Special Resource Study of an American Icon. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.