Watch Night for Emancipation in Peterboro

African Americans watch through the night of Dec. 31, 1862, for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation that would deliver them from a life of physical bondage into a life of freedom Jan. 1, 1863. Peterboro will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Watch Night with programs and a watch fire Dec. 31 at 4 p.m.noname

(Peterboro, NY – Dec. 2012) On Dec. 31, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro will present a program from 4 to 6 p.m. to commemorate and celebrate the tradition of “Watch Night.”

In 1862, African Americans congregated in homes, meeting halls and churches in the north and in secret locations in the Confederacy on the evening of Dec. 31 to “watch” for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is important to remember and understand the significance of this event and the contributions that African American patriots then made as they joined the Union Army and Navy and enforced the Emancipation Proclamation on the way to victory in the Civil War.

The program is scheduled to begin at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro, at 4 p.m. and will include an informational session, the history of “Watch Nights” and traditional fellowship, freedom readings, songs and hymns and NAHOF activities.

The program will conclude at about 6 p.m. with a reading of portions of the Emancipation Proclamation and the lighting of a symbolic watch fire, in memory of the African Americans who served in the Civil War.

All are welcome and invited to attend. For more information, email

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