More than a year after the formal establishment of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, the first park rangers will be assigned to the Auburn landmark.
Frank Barrows, superintendent of Fort Stanwix National Monument and project lead of the Tubman park, announced Tuesday that Jessica Bowes and Rufai Shardow will staff the Harriet Tubman Home property through September.
Bowes, a museum technician at Fort Stanwix, is familiar with the Harriet Tubman Home. While pursuing her doctoral degree at Syracuse University, she was part of a team that conducted archaeological digs at the South Street site.
Shardow has been a park ranger at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in Massachusetts since 2009. His expertise includes Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad.
Barrows said Bowes and Shardow will assist the Harriet Tubman Home with building capacity and "further establish our National Park Service presence on the ground in Auburn."
"Both bring extensive knowledge of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad to the table," he said.
The start date of Bowes and Shardow's assignment hasn't been set, but they will work at the Harriet Tubman Home five days a week during the summer.
The addition of two park rangers will allow the Tubman home property to be open Sundays during the summer when visitation is usually higher. The site is usually open Tuesday through Saturday, but closed Sunday and Monday.
Karen Hill, president and CEO of the Harriet Tubman Home, welcomes the park rangers' assistance.
"It's huge," she said in a phone interview last week. "It's the first step in increasing our capacity. We will be able to welcome more visitors to the park. They'll have a great visitor experience. They will see the presence of the rangers."
To prepare for their assignment, Barrows said the rangers began their orientation last week and met with Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer.
Over the next few weeks, they will learn more about the resources at the Tubman home property and the Auburn area.
"The presence of these park rangers will give us an opportunity to explore the many ways that our personnel can complement what is already being done on the site," Barrows said.
The Tubman national park was created when legislation was approved by Congress and signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2014. The sites include Tubman's brick residence and the Home for the Aged on South Street. The Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church is also part of the park.