The Underground Railroad was a secret network that helped slaves in the United States escape to free states and Canada during the 19th century. Use these sites to explore the "railroad" with your students.
National Geographic's Underground Railroad
A wonderful interactive journey guides visitors along the road to freedom. Students may examine the motivations, living conditions, and personal stories of people who traveled that route more than 150 years ago. The site, which includes a map, a timeline, classroom activities, and much more, is definitely worth your time.
Our Shared History
The National Park Service provides this excellent resource on the Underground Railroad and the stops along the road to freedom. Sections on slavery, the search for freedom, and African American heritage include timelines, maps, glossaries, and comprehensive discussions of such topics as African American music, literature, and scientific contributions. This "big picture" of African American history is a terrific site for students in middle school and above.
A Slave's Story
"A Slave's Story," first published in Putnam's magazine in 1857, is "a simple, faithful narrative of a slave's experience and views," as told by his former owner following the slave's death. The essay is sure to inspire thought, discussion, and insight among students in upper middle school and above.
The Library of Congress provides these online facsimiles of historical documents relating to the abolitionist movement in the 19th century. The site displays more than a dozen images of such primary resources as an anti-slavery publication for children, an advertisement for an anti-slavery fair, and an abolitionist song.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
The Avalon Project at Yale Law School provides an online version of the historic document, which said, in part, "When a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of the United States, the person to whom such service or labor may be due, or their agent or attorney, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, without process."
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Created by a second-grade class at Pocantico Hills School in Sleepy Hollow, New York, this page offers an assortment of information and activities related to Harriet Tubman and her work on the Underground Railroad. The site includes a timeline, a quiz, character sketches, maps, puzzles, poems, photos, and more. This is an excellent resource for showing children what other children have done -- and what they can do.
Article by Walter McKenzie
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Last updated 01/30/2012