The Underground Railroad Chris DeVries

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The Underground Railroad

Chris DeVries

8th Grade West Noble Middle School

June 2003

The Underground Railroad was a unique part of American history. It was neither a railroad, nor underground. Set before and during the Civil War the passengers were runaway slaves, the conductors were leaders to freedom, and the stations were “safe houses” on the dangerous path to freedom in the North. Materials were selected using existing Web sites on the Underground Railroad. Great information can be yours as you search through the links. A large selection of original documents and photographs are available through on-line are included.

Please use the links and print materials below to access general information on the people, places, and terms of the Underground Railroad.

[Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC- cwpb 01005]


Stories of Slaves and Abolitionist

American Slave Narratives from the University of Virginia, 1996.

Narratives of past slaves include actual photographs and the words from interviews through various sources. Click on the pictures to get each interview.

Ben Horry
Harriet Tubman from Spectrum: Home & School Magazine, 2003.

Linked from

A short biography of Harriet Tubman.
Levi Coffin by The National Center for Public Policy Research

Journal entry by Levy Coffin detailing hiding escaped slaves and his involvement in the Underground Railroad. See Web site below on the Levi Coffin House in Wayne, IN.

Stamp on Black History from Think Quest, 1997.

The US postal system created commemorative stamps on several African American women and men like Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington who have been honored for their work to end slavery. Search the “Stamps by Curriculum Area” under history to read a short biography and picture of these heroes.

Also play some games or write your own version of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech at

Web Sites:

Images and Photographs of Original Documents

Slave Voices from the Special Collections Library at Duke University by

Paolo Mangiafico, October 1995.

Links show photos of original documents like a bill of sale for slaves and letters from one slave owner to another regarding escaped slaves.

Caesar, a slave in Georgia, is bought, escapes, and returns to his master. His biggest hope was to buy his freedom.

Selected Civil War Photographs from the Library of Congress

Collection contains 1,118 original photographs from the Civil War. Search terms like African Americans or slaves.

African-American Mosaic from The Library of Congress, 2003

An illustrated history of slavery and the abolition movement in America includes photographs of people and documents. Click on the links under abolition and WPA. Includes ex-slave photographs at

Audio transcript

Fountain Hughes from University of Virginia, 1997.

Clips of an original sound recording interview of Fountain Hughes, a slave born in 1848. His grandfather was a slave of Thomas Jefferson, and he tells of slave auctions and mistreatment. Click on the highlighted sentences to hear Mr. Hughes’s words.

Web Sites:

Travel the Underground Railroad

Freedom’s Trail from The Journal News, 2000

An excellent Web site including history, people, places, and code words of the Underground Railroad. Words for the song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” is one of twelve articles

A Related article is:

Antiphonal Chants from the Gale Group free resources.

Examples of 6 other African American chants that include “Go Down Mose

History of the Drinking Gourd from NASA Quest Learning Technologies, copied by Mrs. Taverna at Pocantico Hills School

This short article discusses the “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” and is linked to several activities and games on Harriet Tubman.

Underground Railroad code terms

Levi Coffin House in Wayne County, Indiana

Levi Coffin was a famous Quaker Underground Railroad conductor. He was considered a “president” of the Underground Railroad. See Levi Coffin’s diary excerpt above.

America’s Quilting History by Anne Johnson, 2001.

This site discusses the oral history of the Underground Railroad and quilts. Quilts and the Underground Railroad have been rumored for generations. A log cabin quilt hanging in a window with a black center for a chimney was said to be a safe house. Links to quilt images, articles, and book reviews discuss if quilts really played a role in helping escaped slaves

Aboard the Underground Railroad

from the National Parks Register and the National Park Service. Includes history, map, lists of sites, and links to places associated with the Underground Railroad. It includes three houses in Indiana that are registered as official “safe houses.”

One is the Levi Coffin House

Reference Resources:

World Book Online

Search under the search terms found below. For example, search “underground railroad” to find articles and a detailed map of routes North. Articles and Web links to famous people involved in the Underground Railroad can be found in the boxes at the top of each article called “Article Outline” and “Related Info.”

Grolier Online


Search under the search terms found below. Add your own names of famous African Americans and abolitionists. Articles in The New Book of Knowledge give basic information while articles in Encyclopedia Americana may be more detailed. Further help exploring the locations and path of the Underground Railroad may be found in America the Beautiful. Search America the Beautiful using city or state names.


Topo USA 3.0 by Delorme Mapping

Use this software to map your own journey through Levi Coffin’s House to freedom in Canada. Take a look at the map of Indiana and start planning a course through Ohio and Canada. Avoid big roads and big cities as much as possible, but stay near rivers to hide your scent from bounty hunter’s dogs. Print out the map for the week with the elevation and estimated time of travel. See the additional record for this program below.


Underground railroad pathfinder by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1999.

Extensive list of Web resources and activities for school age children and teachers.

With Miles to Go Before I Sleep from Co-nect Teleproject, 2002

A 2002- 2003 Webquest for middle school students integrates math, history, geography, and language arts activities. Students become slaves who must navigate through Indiana and Ohio to Canada by completing navigation, group activities, and journals over a three week period.

print materials:

Nonfiction Books

Bound for the North: True Stories of Fugitive Slaves by Dennis B. Fradin. (New York: Clarion Books, c2000.)

*Twelve stirring stories of escaped slaves accompanied by archival prints and photographs.

Escape From Slavery: Five Journeys to Freedom by Doreen Rappaport. (New York: Harper Collins, c1991.)

* Slaves who managed to escape to freedom before the Civil War.

Get On Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad by James Haskins. (New York: Scholastic, c1993.) *People and places on the Underground Railroad.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry. (New York: Crowell, c1955.) *Biography of Harriet Tubman.
Picture Books

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold. (New York: Crown, c1992.) * With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her younger brother.
Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter. (New York: Knopf, c1988.)

*A picture book of the journey of runaway slaves following the directions in a song.

Freedom River by Doreen Rappoport. (New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.)

*Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.

Journey to Freedom: a Story of the Underground Railroad by Courtni Crump Wright. (New York: Holiday House, c1994.)

*Runaway slaves from Kentucky follow the Underground Railroad to Freedom.


Follow the Drinking Gourd. (Rowayton, Conn.: Rabbit Ears Production, 1992

VHS videocassette: 30 min.)

*A historical fiction story of a runaway slave family’s journey North along the Underground Railroad shows how they reached freedom by following the directions in the song, “The Drinking Gourd.” Starring Morgan Freeman with music by Taj Mahal.
Harriet Tubman. (USA: Nest Entertainment, 1996. VHS videocassette: 30 min.)

*A short history of the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad.

A History of Slavery in America. (Bala Cynwyd, Penna.: Schlessinger Video Productions, 1994. VHS videocassette: 30 min.)

*The Underground Railroad story in America from the 1600s to the Reconstruction give evidence that there was an ongoing attempt to end slavery in America.


Abolitionists Levi Coffin

African American Quilt Frederick Douglass

Antislavery movements Sojourner Truth

Fugitive slaves Harriet Tubman


Underground railroad

Developed by Chris DeVries:

Delorme Mapping’s Topo USA 3.0

020 __ B00006D2p9 (cd-rom.)

245 10 Topo USA

250 __ 3.0 ed.

260 __ |b Delorme Mapping, |c 2000.

300 |a computer CD-Rom; |c .

440 0 |a Topo USA.

650 0 |a computer software.

650 0 |a map reading.

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