Celebrate Black History Month and explore the stories of unsung Revolutionaries this February. Plan Your Visit

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Welcome to the Museum of the American Revolution’s virtual tour of our special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. Immerse yourself in 360-degree panoramic gallery images, high-resolution photos of the artifacts and documents, and a guided audio tour to explore the story of free Black Philadelphian James Forten and his descendants as they navigated cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia during the American Revolution to become leaders in the abolition and women's suffrage movements.

How to Use

An Immersive Tour of Black Founders

The exhibit features more than 100 historical artifacts, works of art, and documents from 38 different lenders, including both institutions and private collectors, as well as the Museum’s own collection to explore the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and abolition and voting rights from 1776 to 1876. Rare historical objects on loan from descendants of the Forten family are on view for the very first time in a public exhibit. The unique journey and exceptional story of this family of Revolutionaries explores the legacy of the American Revolution, the history of the American experiment of liberty, equality, and self-government, and the ongoing work to improve the nation’s dedication to the principle that “all men are created equal.”

A screenshot of a 360-degree panoramic image from the Black Founders virtual tour.

Music Station & Audio Tour Integration

The Black Founders virtual tour incorporates audio elements from the onsite experience, including the listening station dedicated to the music of Black composer and musician Francis Johnson. The guided audio tour of Black Founders, narrated by Director of Education and Community Engagement Adrienne Whaley, is integrated throughout the virtual tour to dive deeper into the highlights of the exhibition. Transcripts of the audio tour stops are available on the exhibit's audio tour page.

Black Founders Music Audio Tour

Teacher Resources

The Black Founders virtual tour features a robust selection of teacher resources for using the virtual tour in the classroom. Resources include modular activities and worksheets, access to primary sources, big idea framing essays, a glossary, and much more.

This graphic depicts a teacher in front of a chalkboard and by clicking the image, it will take you to Teacher Resources.

Teacher Resources
Access modular activities and ready-made worksheets, all aligned to national standards, to help your students dig deeper into the story of free Black Philadelphian, Revolutionary War privateer, and stalwart abolitionist James Forten and his family.

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This graphic depicts a lightbulb and, by clicking, will provide you with short essays that put the stories of Andrew, Deborah, Eve, Jack, and London into historical context.

Big Ideas
These short framing essays help to contextualize the unique journey and exceptional story of this family of Revolutionaries and the ongoing work to improve the nation’s dedication to the principle that “all men are created equal.”

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This graphic depicts a glossary.

Glossary
This glossary provides definitions that may be useful as you explore the Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia Teacher Resources, Big Ideas, and Primary Sources.

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Photography by Brandon Hull (HULLFILM)

Exhibit Black Founders Sponsor Lockup With Media

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A father holds his child as they look at the Forten family tree in the Museum's Black Founders exhibit.
 

Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia

February 11 - November 26, 2023
Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia explored the story of James Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to later become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War.
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Silhouettes of Francis Johnson and his wife Helen  courtesy of The Met.
courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The Music of Francis Johnson: A Soundtrack to Antebellum Black Philadelphia

Learn more about and listen to music written by Black composer and musician Francis Johnson, whose music was popular in the Revolutionary and Antebellum eras.
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A family views the Forten family tree and family bible in the Museum's Black Founders exhibit.
 
Black Founders

Forten Family Heirlooms on Loan from Descendants in Black Founders Exhibit

Learn more about the rare surviving objects on loan from Forten family descendants that are on display in our special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia.
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