Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Curriculum Connections:


Grade 1

UNIT 3: The Community

1.3 A citizen is a member of a community or group. Students are citizens of their local and global communities. (Standard 5)

● Citizens are members of their own community

● Citizens protect and respect their own communities

● Community workers (police, teachers, etc.) respect the rights of citizens

UNIT 4: Community Economics

1.10 People make economic choices as producers and consumers of goods and services.

(Standard 4): Community Workers 1.10b, 1.10c (Standards 4, 5)

● People in the community have different jobs (teachers, truck drivers, doctors, government leaders, etc.)

● Community workers use tools and resources to provide services in a community

● Community workers are diverse and work with one another

● People in the community help their neighbors in emergencies

● Communities develop new needs and resources, jobs

Grade 2

UNIT 4: Rights, Rules and Responsibilities

2.9 A community requires the interdependence of many people performing a variety of jobs and services to provide basic needs and wants. (Standards 4, 5)

● There are goods and services specific to New York City

● Community resources provide communities with services (library, hospital, playground, etc.)

● Members of a community specialize in different types of jobs that provide services to the community (fire fighters, police officers, sanitation workers, teachers, etc.)

● Communities share services and resources with other communities


● Biographies below

● Paper, pencil, coloring materials


● Introduce some vocabulary: community, citizen. Make sure your student understands that you’ll be talking about what makes someone a good citizen today, and how some citizens have special roles in their communities—helping people lead healthy, safe, and happy lives.

● Today, you’ll learn about some everyday heroes from the past, and get inspired to honor a community citizen today.

● Note about the coronavirus: this lesson does not require that you inform your student any more about the current pandemic than you already have. We focus on many different types of community helpers, so it is possible to avoid the topic of the virus entirely if you prefer; however, if you plan to honor a healthcare worker today and are looking for resources on how to talk to kids about the virus, check out this article from the CDC.

● Ask students to brainstorm what makes a good citizen. Who in the community helps everyone be safe and healthy?

● Tell students: now we’re going to learn about a few people from the past who helped their communities.


● Read the following bios on everyday heroes who are buried at Green-Wood and look at images of their monuments. After reading these bios and examining the monuments, ask:

● Why do you think they did what they did?

● What obstacles did they face?

● Why did they persevere?

● What does their monument tell you about their lives?

● Here are some amazing everyday heroes who are buried at The Green-Wood Cemetery:

Abby Hopper Gibbons, Civil War nurse

William Hallock Park, doctor and disease expert

Sarah Jane Smith Garnet, educator and suffragist

Harry Howard, firefighter

Isabella Seaholm, police detective


● Think of an everyday hero you care about. It can be someone you know or a stranger. How do they help your community? Think about why you would like to honor or thank them. Draw a picture, write a card, or make a poster to honor and thank them.

● Here’s an example of how to do this from Children’s Museum of the Arts


● Talk about why it’s important to thank the heroes in your community and honor them.

● Share your work honoring an everyday hero with your class, your family, or even with Green-Wood! Post what you created to Instagram using the hashtag #GreenWoodIsMyClassroom.

Abby Hopper was born in 1801 to a religious Quaker family that believed in helping their community. When Abby grew up, she worked in Quaker schools, a profession she
continued after she got married to James Sloan Gibbons, a fellow Quaker, in 1833. Throughout their lives, the couple were leaders in a variety of social and political causes, such as the fight to end slavery, improving the conditions of prisons, and aiding the poor.

Abby and her family were abolitionists, meaning they fought for the immediate end of slavery. They took this fight very seriously. They even stopped being a part of their
church’s congregation because their religious community thought the Gibbons’ antislavery views were too extreme.1 Abby and her husband also sheltered people who had escaped slavery in their home. In fact, their home was one of the “stations” on the Underground Railroad (a system of people and safe, secret places that helped people
escape slavery, not an actual railroad) in New York City. Because they were widely known abolitionists, Abby and her family’s home was attacked by a hate-filled white mob in July 1863 during what are today known as the Draft Riots. Abby and her family escaped but their home was very damaged.2

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Abby was sixty years old. But she wasn’t done working. She and her daughter Sarah Emerson Gibbons signed up to be nurses—work they did for the next three years. Being a nurse during the war was very hard work. Abby had to travel into the South to small towns and cities near where battles took place. She had to work in terrible conditions, helping wounded and sick soldiers survive in makeshift hospitals in fields or old buildings. Writing in a letter about an experience she had in Fredericksburg, Virginia she wrote, “The whole town is filled with wounded. House after house, store after store, filled with men lying on the floor. I have about 160. We see nothing but frightfully wounded men.”3 She had to work with limited supplies.

She had to provide help and comfort even to soldiers fighting for the Confederacy, whose values were against her own (Abby supported the Union).

noble women civil war scene

“Noble Women of the United States Sanitary Commission Softening the Horrors of War – May, 1864.” Copyright 1910 by Patriot Publishing Co. Springfield, Mass. From the Photographic History of the Civil War, Published by Review of Reviews Co.

After the war, Abby fought for veterans’ rights, made dolls for poor children, and helped rehabilitate women coming out of prison. She was busy and active in her community until she died at age 92. Work was so important to Abby, that her family quoted her views on it on her monument at Green-Wood. The quotation states “She finished her work and it was meet that she should rest.”

gibbons gravestone

1 “Abby Hopper Gibbons Family Papers, 1824-1992,” Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College (Swarthmore
College ), accessed May 6, 2020,
2 Virginia Kurshan and Theresa Noonan, “Lamartine Place Historic District Designation Report” (New York City
Landmarks Preservation Commission, 2009), pp. 9-18
3 Abby Hopper Gibbons, Life of Abby Hopper Gibbons: Told Chiefly through Her Correspondence, ed. Sarah Hopper
Gibbons Emerson (New York: Putnam, 1896)

doctor park profileWILLIAM HALLOCK PARK (1863–1939)
Dr. William Hallock Park was a special kind of doctor called a “bacteriologist” who studied what makes people get sick and how to prevent diseases. His work focused on diphtheria, a deadly disease that is extremely rare today in the United States thanks in large part to Dr. Park.

In the 1800s when Dr. Park started his career, people were just starting to understand what caused diseases: germs. With so little understanding of how these invisible microbes made people sick, people could not develop effective medicine to treat diseases, or vaccines, which prevent people from getting a disease in the first place. But that began to change just as Dr. Park was getting out of medical school. Right after graduating he began studying the disease diphtheria, which was a particular danger to children in his time, and helped discover and identify the germs that cause it. Dr. Park then went on to work for the New York City Department of Health. Under Park’s leadership, the city was able to begin producing vaccines for diphtheria during an outbreak in the city in 1894. But this wasn’t enough to stop the disease. There were not nearly enough vaccines and they were very expensive to produce. In 1914 Park’s lab made a new discovery and found a way to produce a new vaccine. This led to greatly reducing the cases of diphtheria in New York. According to Park, “All this work lowered the diphtheria death-rate from 150 per 100,000 in 1895 to less than one per 100,000 in 1936.”1

Diphtheria was not the only disease Dr. Park would try to conquer. His efforts, and those of scientists who worked with him, made great progress in the control of scarlet fever, tuberculosis, influenza, and other contagious diseases and led to him being called “the family doctor to New York City’s millions” by Yale University.2 Under Park the Health Department also took on another deadly risk to children: milk. In his era, milk was often riddled with bacteria because it was not handled safely on farms and farmers added dangerous ingredients to it to hide a bad taste or color. This bacteria-ridden milk caused many children to get sick, and some to die, especially in the hot summer months. Because of Dr. Park’s research on improving milk safety, by 1905 all milk sold in the city had to be inspected by the Health Department and by 1914 milk had to be pasteurized, a
process that kills bacteria.3

William Park dedicated his life to fighting diseases and helping children in New York City be healthier and safer. He was still working in his laboratory until the end of his life and died on April 6, 1939 at 76 years old.

william park gravestone

1 Morris Schaeffer, “William H. Park (1863-1939): His Laboratory and His Legacy,” American Journal of Public Health 75, no. 11 (November 1985): pp. 1299,
2 Dr. W. H. Park Dies; Health Authority,” The New York Times, April 7, 1939, p. 21,
3 Schaeffer, “William H. Park”, 1299.

garnet portrait imageSARAH J. THOMPSON GARNET (1831–1911)
Sarah Garnet grew up in Brooklyn in a community called Weeksville, in what is now Crown Heights. Weeksville was founded as a free black community in 18381, and Sarah’s parents were some of the first to move there. This community supported and promoted black professional careers and established their own churches, schools, businesses, doctors, aid societies, orphanages, and elderly homes. Growing up in Weeksville, Sarah and some of her siblings were encouraged to pursue an education and would have seen many other black men and women becoming skilled professionals in their fields.

Sarah was educated at a young age by her grandmother and then went to public school in Manhattan. At fourteen she stood out in her school and began working as a monitor, helping teachers instructing other students in the school. Sarah’s passion for teaching continued and she began her career in education. When she began teaching in 1854 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, public schools were just beginning to grow as a way to educate New York City’s children. But it still wasn’t required or enforced that all kids go to school, so some kids stayed home and worked with their families or got jobs at young ages. It wasn’t until 1894 that a law was passed to require all children aged 6-14 to attend school for a certain portion of the school year.2 So, during Sarah’s career she likely saw poor attendance by many students who were expected to be home helping their families. In 1863 Sarah became the first black principal of an integrated public school in New York when she began working at Grammar School No. 4. She later worked as the principal of Public School No. 80.3 Teaching at an integrated school meant that black students and white students, as well as students of other races, all learned together in the same classrooms, but that was not always the case in New York. Many of the first free schools in New York City in the nineteenth century were segregated, meaning they only taught white students, or only taught black students.4

Growing up Sarah saw her father advocate for African American voting rights, and she eventually would do the same for black women. Sarah believed women had the “same human intellectual and spiritual capabilities as men,” which is why she believed they too should be able to vote.5 The suffrage movement of the time was fighting for women’s right to vote, but many white women in the movement excluded black women. So, in the late 1880s Sarah founded the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage League of Brooklyn. She and her sister, Susan McKinney Steward, who was the first black female doctor in New York, and many others fought for their inclusion as black women in the voting rights movement. In fact, the League became so popular that it outgrew Sarah’s living room, where they initially held their meetings, and had to meet at the YMCA.

Sarah dedicated her life to teaching and fighting for the rights of African Americans and women. She fought not only for suffrage but also for equal pay and an end to race-based
discrimination until she died in 1911.

garnet gravestone

1Cassandra Zenz, “Weeksville, New York (1838- ),” Blackpast , October 14, 2010,
2James D Folts, “History of the University of the State of New York and the State Education Department 1784 – 1996,” NYSED (New York State Library, 1996),
3Susan Goodier, “Biographical Sketch of Sarah Jane Smith Thompson Garnet,” Alexander Street (Alexander Street, 2007),
4Andy McCarthy, “Class Act: Researching New York City Schools with Local History Collections,” The New York
Public Library, October 20, 2014,
5 Goodier, “Biographical Sketch of Sarah Jane Smith Thompson Garnet”.

howard illustrationHARRY HOWARD (1822–1896)
Harry Howard was one of New York’s most famous fireman of his time. He was born in Manhattanville, New York and as an infant, he was abandoned and mysteriously left to
Sarah Howard, who adopted Harry and gave him his name.

Harry was interested in firefighting from a very young age. Firefighting was very different in the 1800s than it is today: when Harry started out, firefighters were all
volunteers. Their fire engines had to be pumped by hand. Rival companies competed to be the first to get to a fire and put it out. Sometimes companies even had fist fights with
each other! Still, firefighters were heroes to many, especially young children.

At the age of thirteen, Harry became a “runner.” Runners were assigned to run through the streets ahead of the fire engine, clearing the path for the engine to get through.
When he was seventeen, he finally joined the Peterson Engine 15 company as a volunteer and began his career. In 1854, after a massive fire at the Jennings Clothing Store, where eleven firemen lost their lives, he was recognized for his bravery by the Common Council of New York. The Council funded a full-length portrait of Harry and placed it in City Hall. The portrait is now on exhibit at the FDNY Museum on Spring Street in Manhattan.

In 1857, Harry was named chief engineer for the Fire Department. As chief engineer, he introduced the permanent alert system, which required firefighters to sleep in bunkrooms at fire houses, so they were ready to respond to alarms of fire at all hours. Unfortunately, he was not able to hold the position of chief engineer for very long. A year after he assumed leadership of the Volunteer Fire Department, he was on his way to a fire on East Houston Street when he was struck down by paralysis. Though he survived, he never recovered his strength and had to resign from the department in 1860.

Although he could no longer fight fires himself, this didn’t stop Harry from fighting for the rights of other firefighters. After the department transformed from volunteer to paid service in 1865, Harry advocated for raises for the firefighters. In 1866 he made his argument before the legislature, securing a 20% wage increase.1 In 1885, he donated $1,000 of his own money to the burial fund of the Association of Exempt Firemen. In 1890, as part of the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York, he helped establish The Firemen’s Home in Hudson, New York, a home for elderly and injured firefighters that still exists today.2

howard fireman rescue image

“The American Fireman, Prompt to the Rescue.” Lithograph by Louis Mauer for Currier and Ives, 1858. The Green-Wood Historic Fund Collections.

Harry was known throughout his career as an extremely brave, dashing, and athletic firefighter and it is believed that the hero depicted in the famous Currier and Ives “Life of a Fireman” series of lithographs is based on him. Towards the end of his life he was asked in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine what part of his life as a fireman he looked back on with most fondness. His reply was bitter: “Upon none of it. See this arm of mine [still paralyzed]…That’s what I got for being a fireman. What can compensate me for that? Nothing. And there was many a man who went to an early grave in Greenwood on account of over-exertion as a fireman…[T]he old volunteers endured he most exhausting hardships…and all for what? They never got even thanks.”3 He was honored by a fire company, Howard Engine Company No. 34, and with Harry Howard Square, bounded by Canal, Walker, Baxter, and Mulberry Streets in Manhattan. In 2016, the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York received a grant to clean and restore his helmet. This helmet is now on permanent display at their museum. Howard is buried at The Green-Wood Cemetery. Appreciative of his adoptive mother, he showed his gratitude by having a life-size marble statue of her erected at their grave.

howard grave monument

1 “Harry Howard Is Dead,” The New York Times, February 7, 1896, p. 9,
2 “Harry Howard Is Dead,” The New York Times, February 7, 1896, p. 9,
3 “The Old New York Volunteer Fire Department,” Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1881, p. 380,

seaholm photo readingISABELLA SEAHOLM GOODWIN (1865–1943)
Isabella Loughry felt she was “born to do” police work at a time when women were not hired as formal police officers. At age nineteen, she married a police officer and always took great interest in his business. In 1896, Isabella Seaholm lost her husband and was left to raise four children by herself. She took the civil service exam and was hired by the New York City Police Department as a “matron.” Little did she know her dreams were going to come true and pave the way for thousands of women officers across the United States.

For more than a decade, Seaholm did the only kind of work women did for the NYPD: cleaning jail cells and caring for inmates. After Theodore Roosevelt became Police Commissioner, he made it possible for matrons like her to do police work, especially on crimes considered more in women’s domain like those involving women or children. Her detective work picked up in 1910 and by 1912 she had “been responsible for the arrest and conviction of more crooks…than all the other women investigators and detectives doing similar work in the city put together,” according to a New York Times article.1

And then Seaholm’s big break came: In 1912, a group of men robbed a bank vehicle and took $25,000 in broad daylight in downtown New York City. One of the ring leaders was supposed to be a man named Eddie “The Boob” Kinsman, but the police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him. So, they went to Isabella. She agreed to pose as a maid in the boardinghouse of Kinsman’s girlfriend, known as Swede Annie. She befriended Annie and gathered evidence on Kinsman in secret. She persuaded Annie to tell her that Eddie had admitted to the crime and Isabella tracked how Kinsman had spent the stolen money. Thanks to her dangerous, crafty work, the police nabbed Kinsman.

seaholm article new york times

“The First Municipal Woman Detective in the World,” The New York Times, March 3, 1912

After Kinsman’s arrest, the police commissioner promoted Seaholm to the rank of full police detective. She was the first woman to hold that position in New York City, and in fact the whole nation. Like other detectives then and now, Seaholm put her life in danger to stop criminals. She once said she was proud to “show just what a woman can do when the chance comes her way.”2

seaholm gravestone

1 “The First Municipal Woman Detective in the World,” The New York Times, March 3, 1912,
2 Corey Kilgannon, “Overlooked No More: Isabella Goodwin, New York City’s First Female Police Detective,” The New York Times, March 13, 2019,