The Life of Venture Smith: Hull reveals the remarkable story of a self-freed slave

By Nick Owen | 23 August 2011
Frontispiece from Venture Smith's 1798 autobiography
© Courtesy of Hull History Centre
Exhibition: The Story of Venture Smith, Hull History Centre, Kingston upon Hull, August 23 - October 31 2011

Hull History Centre is marking International Slavery Remembrance Day by hosting a prestigious exhibition previously displayed to Congressman in Washington D.C.

The Story of Venture Smith tells a remarkable tale of human dignity and personal accomplishment, narrating the life of a self-freed slave.

Broteer Furro was taken as a child from his West African home and sold into slavery for "four gallons of rum and a piece of calico".

Seen by his owner as a business endeavour, Broteer became known as Venture, spending 25 years of his life in slavery.

Venture Smith's headstone
© Courtesy of Hull History Centre
Eventually buying his freedom from his third master, Venture went on to secure the freedom of his wife and children.

The exhibition tells Venture’s story as told by him to Elisha Niles, a Connecticut schoolteacher and Revolutionary War veteran who published it in 1798.

The autobiography still holds a particular resonance today, with millions across the world still striving for the freedom that Venture achieved more than 200 years ago.

Thanks to the work of historian David Richardson, a professor at the University of Hull, the city will be the only UK host to the exhibition after its residency on Capitol Hill.

During its time in Washington D.C., a project incorporating local schools and colleges was developed around the exhibition, introducing children to Venture's invaluable story.

The exhibition hopes to do the same in Hull, putting Venture’s story at the heart of celebrations for Hull’s Black History Month, which takes place in October. 

  • Open 9.30am-5.30pm (9am-4.30pm Saturday, closed Sunday). Admission free.
  • Find out more about the work of Professor David Richardson and the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull at
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