The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.





Image: Experience the newly restored African Meeting House - click on image to learn more about this historic restoration.


Black Heritage Trail® Walking Tours

Image: footsteps

The Black Heritage Trail®is a walking tour that explores the history of Boston's 19th century African American community.


Guided walking tours are offered three times per day by our partners at the National Park Service Boston African American National Historic Site — daily (except Sundays), Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and other times as scheduled or by special request.

Self-guided walking tour maps available here.

Click below to download the NHS Park walking tour brochure (PDF):

Boston African American NHS Park Brochure, Side 1
Boston African American NHS Park Brochure, Side 2

For more information on our walking tours, please contact the museum.

Note: The historic homes on the Black Heritage Trail are private residences and are not open to the public. Only the African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School are open to the public.

Tour the Black Heritage Trail® Online


Between 1800 and 1900, most of the African Americans who lived in the city lived in the West End, between Pinckney and Cambridge Streets, and between Joy and Charles Streets, a neighborhood now called the North Slope of Beacon Hill.

The first Africans arrived in Boston in February of 1638, eight years after the city was founded. They were brought as slaves, purchased in Providence Isle, a Puritan colony off the coast of Central America. By 1705, there were over 400 slaves in Boston and the beginnings of a free black community in the North End.

The American Revolution was a turning point in the status of Africans in Massachusetts. At the end of the conflict, there were more free black people than slaves. When the first federal census was enumerated in 1790, Massachusetts was the only state in the Union to record no slaves.

The all-free black community in Boston was concerned with finding decent housing, establishing independent supportive institutions, educating their children, and ending slavery in the rest of the nation. All of these concerns were played out in this Beacon Hill neighborhood.

To begin your tour of the Boston Black Heritage Trail®, click on the footsteps.

Image: footsteps

If you would like to visit individual locations, choose from the list below,
or use our clickable Online Black Heritage Trail® map.

1. Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial

2. George Middleton House

3. The Phillips School

4. John J. Smith House

5. Charles Street Meeting House

6. Lewis and Harriet Hayden House

7. John Coburn House

8-12. Smith Court Residences

13. Abiel Smith School

14. The African Meeting House



You may also visit the online tour of the the Black Heritage Trail®, Nantucket