For Immediate Release
Posted: February 22, 2022


Kim Houghton, Communications Administrator
(603) 513-3030 |

A skilled healer, Biddy Mason fought for her freedom, fortune   

CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire Department of Education, in collaboration with the Woodson Center, is releasing its fourth and final video recognizing Black History Month. 

As part of the ongoing Stories of Courage project, this week’s video showcases a true American pioneer and philanthropist, Bridget “Biddy” Mason. Born into slavery in 1818, Mason fought to win her freedom in court 38 years later, allowing her to earn her living as a midwife and nurse. 

“Biddy Mason used her wealth to benefit her neighbors and others in need, repeatedly opening her hands to those less fortunate. She was the epitome of a strong and courageous Black woman who fought for her education, freedom and accomplishments while remaining compassionate to those less fortunate,” said Frank Edelblut, commissioner of education. 

In this history lesson, students learn about the epic life and exemplary character of Mason, an enslaved woman who was forced to walk to California as part of a pioneer caravan and battle for her freedom in court. After securing freedom for herself and her family, she later used her fortune to invest in her community and provide relief to poor Californians of all races and religions.

"Biddy Mason began life as a slave and died a millionaire – a true ‘rags to riches’ story. But more than that, her experience shows how her commitment to family, faith, education and entrepreneurship empowered her success even under the most terrible conditions, and why it is so important that young people today know that those same pillars are available to them and can power their success,” said Ian Rowe, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Woodson Center, and narrator of the videos.

The Woodson Center’s 1776 Unites curriculum on Black American history is available at the Woodson Center website, and recently received top scores from Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy. The fourth video collaboration is available on YouTube

CAPTION: Bridget “Biddy” Mason won her freedom in court in 1856 and was known for her impressive charitable initiatives and a famous quote, “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in …,” which underscores her generous values. (Still photograph from video produced in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Education and the Woodson Center, with assistance from independent videographer Luke Crory of New Hampshire.)