Wornall Majors House Museums

Hunting Freedom: The Many Paths to Emancipation in Civil War Missouri

An Exhibit at the Wornall/Majors House Museums, February-June 2017


Hunting Freedom is an exhibit at the Wornall/Majors House Museums which explores the end of slavery on the Kansas-Missouri border, focusing on the role of African Americans in this unique history. Learn how the situation in the contested border state created opportunities for enslaved Missourians to seek freedom and hear previously untold stories of the brave individuals who used the chaos on the border to hunt for freedom. 


Learn how the long Civil War on the Kansas-Missouri border impacted enslaved Missourians


 The Kansas-Missouri border provides a unique view into the process of emancipation. The presence of the Union army, the proximity of free states, the division of white society, and the mobility and knowledge of enslaved people living in small-scale slavery allowed enslaved Missourians to gain freedom earlier and in greater numbers than many other slave states.



Francis Smith, enslaved in Lexington, Missouri
Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum


 Learn how Missouri’s status as a border state altered the process of emancipation



Missouri was excluded from the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, but by the time slavery officially ended in the state, in January 1865, slavery in the region was all but gone. To understand how slavery ended in Missouri, we must recognize that various agents played key roles in freedom and there were many factors which led to slavery’s demise. There is, however, one similarity. All of these opportunities would come to nothing without the actions of enslaved people themselves.


Lafayette Shields, Sergeant in the First Missouri Colored Infantry
Courtesy of the National Archives and Record Administration 


 The exhibit in on display at the Alexander Majors House, April-June 2017, during normal tour hours and is included with tour admission. Self-guided tours of the exhibit are $5.


Want to know more? Join us for a Lecture May 13, 1:00 pm at the Alexander Majors House

Hunting Freedom: Researching Emancipation on the Kansas-Missouri Border: Exhibit Curator, Leah Astle Palmer, will discuss the challenges and rewards of researching African Americans in the nineteenth century and the sources that she used to give voice to the individuals who used the opportunities on the Kansas-Missouri border to hunt for freedom. Learn more here


This exhibition was created by:
Wornall/Majors House Museums

In partnership with:
Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area*
UMKC Women’s Council
UMKC Center for Midwestern Studies

Curated by:
Leah Astle Palmer
  Logo-Freedoms-Frontier-rvsd-102606-large                          Women's Council                          logo

 *This exhibition is available for loan to Freedom’s Frontier partner sites. For information contact Leah Palmer at administrator@wornallmajors.org



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The John Wornall House

6115 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO. 64113


The Alexander Majors House & Barn

8201 State Line Road
Kansas City, MO. 64114


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Photo Credits: Jeri Adams, Sarah Bader-King, John Browning, and Bruce Mathews