Dinnah Jackson's Albany
African American City Life 200 Years Ago

presented by
Stefan Bielinski

The early 1800s marked the emergence of free Black families in the booming capital city of Albany. Until her death in 1818, Dinnah Jackson was the community's most prominent Afro Albanian matriarch. Thirty years earlier, she became Albany's first African ancestry property holder when she purchased a lot on Arbor Hill. While raising a large family, she managed to save enough money to purchase additional parcels in her north Albany neighborhood. She was one of a number of African ancestry householders who made up almost one-fifth of the city's population by 1820.

However, the story of African American life in Albany began with the founding of the community many years before. It is best understood within a larger community context. This musical, visual, and interactive overview of early Albany history focuses on the world of Dinnah Jackson and is based on research conducted by the Colonial Albany Social History Project.

Presentation of the most outstanding images of early Albany and its people provides an orientation to social and economic issues relating to our community's formative years. It is accompanied by the musical theme Albany - a Song of Community as recorded by the fantasy group "Duke and the Beverets." Images and issues provide a springboard for questions and discussion.

Dinnah Jackson near her house at 31 Maiden Lane about 1805 as recalled in a watercolor done a half century later by James Eights. From a print in the collection of the New York State Museum.

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