Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Weekend planner — tour

“Recognizing the brotherhood of the human race and the equality of human rights, we make no distinction as to the conditions and rights of membership in this society, on account of sex, or color, or nationality.”

Those farsighted words were part of the manifesto, signed on May 3, 1863, that established the Free Congregational Society of Florence, a liberal religious institution that itself grew out of the famous utopian community known as the Northampton Association for Education and Industry. Part of an experiment in radical social change, the Florence Society was at that time the largest free-thinking congregation in the world and attracted intellectual activists from around the country, including Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the society, Steve Strimer of the Florence History Project will lead a walking tour on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Sojourner Truth Memorial at the corner of Park and Pine streets in Florence: “We’ll visit homes and graves of the society’s founders and leaders, the sites of Cosmian Hall and the Florence School House, the Hill Institute, Lilly Library and the Davis Block.”

Free; donations welcome. stevestrimer@gmail.com. Pictured: Lilly Library and Cosmian Hall, ca 1895 (photo courtesy the Florence History Museum)

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