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Linda Spencer

the first African American to work at the Smithsonian Institute, naturalist, and poet, was born free in what is now the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. He was the fourth of six children born to Isaac and Rachel Brown. Little is known about Brown's family, except that his father died in 1833 and consequently the family struggled financially and lost their home in 1834. Brown received no formal education as a youngster. Because of prejudice and slavery in the 1800s, public education was not provided to free blacks living in Washington, D.C., until after the Emancipation Act in 1862. Brown was a self-educated man.

Accounts of Brown s early life indicate that there was an arrangement for him to live in the care of the assistant postmaster of Washington D C Lambert Tree Whether Brown was a household servant or an apprentice in Tree s work at ...