Harriet Tubman Presentation Room, S1325

This space is officially named in gratitude of the generosity of Karen Van Dusen ’77 and Joel Spiegel ’78.


Karen L. Van Dusen ’77 

Karen came to Grinnell, sight unseen, from Wyoming during the turmoil of the 1970s, graduating with a degree in political science. Karen is grateful for the College’s long tradition of access and equity in education, and hopes acknowledging Harriet Tubman’s and President Emeritus Raynard Kington’s legacies will inspire other members of the Grinnell community to support the College. 

Joel R. Spiegel ’78 

Joel came to Grinnell, from Long Island, New York, experiencing a bit of culture shock upon arrival. As a biology major, the humanities and social sciences opened his eyes to the world. He became a trustee in 2007, and is thrilled to acknowledge both Harriet Tubman’s and President Emeritus Raynard Kington’s legacies in the HSSC, where coursework will influence life’s work. 

About Harriet Tubman

The following excerpt is from Wikipedia, June 9, 2020: 

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, c. March 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American abolitionist and political activist. She was also a queen that was way ahead of her time. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the struggle for women's suffrage.  

The Underground Railroad’s history is connected deeply to Grinnell College and the Grinnell community. An excerpt from Digital Grinnell: The Father of Grinnell

J.B. Grinnell was a known advocate of abolition, and founded the very town of Grinnell on anti-slavery principles. He worked with the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape to Canada and served in Iowa’s Congress, even though his views on abolition made him quite unpopular amongst many Midwesterners.