The mission of the Free Frank New Philadelphia Historic Preservation Foundation (the “Foundation”) is to preserve and bring to the public information on the life of an extraordinary antebellum African-American pioneer businessman and entrepreneur. As a first step, the mission of the Foundation is to capture the significance of Free Frank as a historical figure and as a basis to further serious inquiry into the historic continuity of African-American entrepreneurship, both slave and free black, in both the South and the North during the age of slavery. The second step of our mission is to rebuild the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. The Foundation will expand its efforts in uncovering and developing new sources and methodologies to place in historical record for dissemination the economic lives of African-Americans from slavery to freedom and their contribution to entrepreneurship in American life and thought.
The Foundation is uniquely qualified to undertake
the rebuilding of Free Frank's New Philadelphia Illinois
as it existed at its height as a frontier town in
the 1850s. Its founder/director is not only the great
great granddaughter of Free Frank but also the author
of the only scholarly study that details the life
of Free Frank as both a slave and freedman, his founding
of New Philadelphia and his activities as a proprietor
to promote its growth. Dr. Walker's book, Free
Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier
(Lexington: University Press of
Kentucky, 1983, 1995), a carefully researched
study, provides the only documented information on
Free Frank economic life and his town of New Philadelphia.
Her book is based on extensive research in federal,
state, and county records and primary published sources
as well as the Free Frank family papers.
Also, Dr. Walker, through intensive lobbying and effort, had the gravesite of her great great grandfather declared a National Register of Historic Place in 1988. Free Frank's gravesite is one of three in Illinois listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The other two are President Abraham Lincoln and Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas. The Free Frank New Philadelphia Historic Preservation Foundation has launched plans to restore the Free Frank Family Cemetery and film a documentary on the life and history of Free Frank and New Philadelphia, Illinois.