The Topic: 
Underground Railroad


Easier - The Underground Railroad was not a real railroad. It was a network of houses and other buildings used to help slaves escape to freedom in the Northern states or Canada. The Underground Railroad operated for many years before and during the Civil War.
 
Harder - The Underground Railroad was a network of escape routes that were described using railroad terms. 'Passengers' were runaway slaves fleeing from the South. Their guides were called 'conductors' and they led them from one 'station' to another.
 
Escape routes stretched from the southern slave states into the North and on to Canada. Fugitives usually traveled secretly at night, and were hidden in 'safe houses', barns, and haylofts in the day. Thousands of antislavery campaigners, both black and white, risked their lives to operate the railway.
 
 
Freedom's Trail: The Underground Railroad from The Journal News
http://www.nyjournalnews.com/blackhistory/main.html
This special online newspaper section tells the story of the Underground Railroad.
Related Websites:
2) Underground Railroad http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASunderground.htm
3) Underground Railroad http://education.ucdavis.edu/NEW/STC/lesson/socstud/railroad/contents.htm
4) Underground Railroad Routes http://education.ucdavis.edu/NEW/STC/lesson/socstud/railroad/Map.htm
5) Underground Railroad Terms http://www.si.umich.edu/CHICO/AlongtheTracks/terms.html
 
History of 'The Drinking Gourd' from NASA Quest Learning Technologies Channel
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/mlk/gourd1.html
At this location, you read an explanation behind the significance of this song
Identical Information at History of 'The Drinking Gourd' http://www2.lhric.org/pocantico/tubman/gourd1.html
Related Websites:
2) Explanation of 'Follow the Drinking Gourd' from NASA Quest http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/mlk/gourd2.html
3) Follow the Drinking Gourd (Words to the song) at Montogomery Co. Public Schools http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/curriculum/socialstd/grade5/Drinking_Gourd.html
 
Underground Railroad and Quilt History
http://www.antiquequiltdating.com/ugrr.html
The underground railroad and the use of quilts as messengers for fleeing slaves.
Related Websites:
1) How quilting played a role.http://www.womenfolk.com/historyofquilts/abolitionist.htm
2) Quilts http://www.beavton.k12.or.us/greenway/leahy/ugrr/
3) Slave quilts-Lesson Plan http://www.askeric.org/Virtual/Lessons/Interdisciplinary/INT0120.html
4) Quilts and the Underground Railroad http://www.macomb.k12.mi.us/ugrr/jhlesson1.htm
 
Underground Railroad at National Geographic Online
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/99/railroad/
This site lets you follow the footsteps of Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of runaway slaves to freedom. The site includes a short interactive journey, maps, a timeline, and more.
Related Websites:
2) Underground Railroad at Africans in America
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2944.html
3) Underground Railroad from The History Channel
http://www.historychannel.com/cgi-bin/frameit.cgi?p=http%3A//www.historychannel.com/exhibits/undergroundrr/index_a.html
 
After exploring several of the websites below, select one or more of the following Underground Railroad activities:
 
Plan An Escape Route. Pretend that you're a runaway slave in pre-Civil War times. Now pick a slave state location from which you have just escaped. Decide when you will travel, day or night. Will you use a disguise? How fast can you walk? Figure out the average miles that you're going to be able to cover each day. Remember that if you're going to have to walk at night, you will probably slow down a bit. Visit sites like Aboard the Underground Railroad, History and Geography of the Underground Railroad, and Underground Railroad Routes because water can help hide your scent from the bounty hunters dogs. Plan your route; sketch a map showing your travel. What time of the year will you journey? Make a timeline. Put together your best escape plan.
 
Make A Decision - Stationmaster? Imagine that you have family and a comfortable home. You are a shop owner; you have a small but growing business. It is 1850 and you live in a small town in a 'border' state. Early in the morning before dawn, a runaway slave has come to your door seeking food and shelter until the following night. What would you do? . . . Before your final decision, list out your options and the consequences for each. Think about the slave and what will likely happen to them if they are caught. Also consider yourself and your family and what would happen to you if people in your community discovered what you have done. Now write a paper explaining your decision, a paper to be sealed and opened in the 21st century.
 
Be An Underground Railroad Conductor. Visit (1) Underground Railroad Code Words and Phrases, (2) Underground Railroad Code Words and Phrases, (3) Code Words in the Underground Railroad, (4) Codes and Phrases, and (5) Underground Railroad Code Words to see some of the coded messages that were used. Then pretend that you are a 'conductor' for a section of the Underground Railroad. But you have learned that bounty hunters are aware of the codes and signals that have been used. Devise new codes and signals that can replace them. Explain how and where each should be employed.
 
Is This A Safe Place? The past two nights have been rough, grueling travel. It rained hard during the day, you hid in a wet haystack, and your group is tired, damp, and starving. You've come upon a house with a lantern, but how do you know for sure that this house is safe? What if it's a trap? Decide what you're going to do to test the safety of the house. Then write a journal entry about what happened and how you felt.
 
Write a Song. Listen to the music at On An Underground Railroad. Write your own song about the underground railroad.
 
Be a Reader. Read books about the underground railroad. Use Themes & Literature Circles: Underground Railroad for ideas.
 
Complete An Underground Railroad WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) All Aboard (Grade 8) by K. Harris http://www.catawba.k12.nc.us/webquest/harris/
2) Exploring the Underground Railroad (Grade 5-6)
http://students.itec.sfsu.edu/itec815_s99/jdetweiler/student.html
3) Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by N. Mosteller and G. Nikirk
http://www.wcboe.k12.md.us/mainfold/technolog/techsat/Mosteller/harriettubman/HTquest.htm
4) Slaves and Conductors of the Underground Railroad (Grade 4-6) by B. Sears and C. Hopp
http://www.plainfield.k12.in.us/hschool/webq/webq92/
5) Underground Railroad (Grade 6-8) by S.G. Barhan & E.J.Williams http://www.plainfield.k12.in.us/hschool/webq/webq50/ugrrwbst.htm
6) Underground Railroad by L.K. Matteucci http://php.iupui.edu/~lakoeken/Ugrr.html
7) Underground Railroad (Grade 5) by K. Beaty, S. DeMaris, and M. Kusbel
http://www.hobart.k12.in.us/suzquest/main.html
8)Underground Railroad http://www.msu.edu/~keenanm3/underground/underground.htm
9)Underground Railroad: Conductors and Travelers by M. Carter, C. Shelton, J. Hiatt, & B.
Alexander http://www.davidson.k12.nc.us/webquests/undrgdrr/undrgdrr.htm
10)Underground Railroad: Stairway to Freedom by N.R. Hardin, B. Kiker, & J.M. Ortega
http://www.esc20.net/etprojects/formats/webquests/summer2000/ollu/rr/default.html
 
Websites By Kids For Kids
Freedom Train
http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~educ/historyweb/maintrain.html
This after-school project site tells about people and places associated with the Freedom Train.
 
Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad
(2nd grade class at Pocantico Hills School in Sleepy Hollow, New York)
http://www2.lhric.org/pocantico/tubman/tubman.html
You can learn about Harriet Tubman's life from the character sketches, timeline, photos, and quiz provided at this website.
 
Our Virtual Underground Railroad Quilt
http://www.beavton.k12.or.us/greenway/leahy/ugrr/
Click on a quilt block to learn more about the Underground Railroad.
 
Path To Freedom- History of the Underground Railroad (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
http://tqjunior.advanced.org/5703/
This website focuses on two Underground Railroad sites: the Rankin House and the Parker House.
Similar Website:
2) Road to Freedom (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project) http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/5643/
 
Underground Railroad from Germantown Elementary School
http://www.germantown.k12.il.us/html/RAILROAD.html
This school project site explains the about secret pathway organized by abolitionists--many of them free blacks and Quakers.
 
Underground Railroad at House of Compassion (1999 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
http://library.thinkquest.org/26073/
Learn about the Underground Railroad, a network of safehouses and waypoints used to free slaves from the South and convey them to freedom in the North of the pre-Civil War United States.
 
Threads of Freedom (2001 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112604/
Have you ever wondered how the slaves communicated and shared secret messages about the Underground Railroad?
 
A Bunch More of Underground Railroad Websites
Aboard the Underground Railroad (National Register Travel Itinerary)
http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/
Here you can read about the history of the Underground Railroad and locate sites along the routes. (See other National Park Service sites below)
 
History and Geography of the Underground Railroad
http://afgen.com/underground_railroad.html
This site provides information on the organization and operations of the Underground Railroad
 
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
http://www.undergroundrailroad.com/
You can find historical accounts of the Underground Railroad here at the website of the national museum slated to open in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2003.
 
On An Underground Railroad from History Happens (Lyrics and music by Kinny Landrum)
http://www.ushistory.com/railr.htm
View the lyrics. Read the background. Look at the mural. See and hear the music video. Here is a 'hip-hop' song to kick-off investigations into the Underground Railroad.
 
Researching and Interpreting the Underground Railroad
(Advanced level materials at Exploring a Common Past)
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/ugrr/exuggr1.htm
This online booklet includes a brief statement about North American slavery, a review of historical scholarship about the Underground Railroad and related topics, suggestions for using a variety of sources to construct responsible and meaningful interpretations, and examples of how to use these sources and to document and interpret specific cases of Underground Railroad activity.
 
Retracing the Route to Freedom
http://www.npca.org/walk.html
A great-grandson of a slave follows the route of fugitive slaves used 130 years ago.
 
Underground Railroad - 1850
http://www.project21.org/UndergroundRailroad.html
Explore information about Levi Coffin who was a leader on the Underground Railroad.
 
Underground Railroad Project from Vermont Historical Society
http://www.state.vt.us/vhs/educate/ugrr.htm
The website contains lots of educational materials on the Underground Railroad including a case study, a guide for debating issues, and some primary documents (letters, news clippings, and a poem).
Related Websites:
2) Underground Railroad
http://education.ucdavis.edu/NEW/STC/lesson/socstud/railroad/contents.htm
3) Underground Railroad at North Carolina Discoveries
http://www.nando.net/ncd/week5/free4.html
4) Underground Railroad in New York State http://www.nyhistory.com/ugrr/
5) Underground Railroad in Rochester, New York
http://www.history.rochester.edu/class/ugrr/HOME.htm
6) Underground Railroad Ran Both Ways in Southern Illinois from The Daily Register
http://www.dailyregister.com/archive1997/news/ugrrinsi050297.html
7) Underground Railroad in Southern Ohio http://www.angelfire.com/oh/chillicothe/ugrr.html
 
Underground Railroad Summary
http://www.nps.gov/boaf/urrsum~1.htm
This site provides a brief summary of information from the Underground Railroad Special Resource Study by the National Park Service in September 1995.
Related National Park Service Websites:
2) Taking the Train to Freedom (Underground Railroad Special Resource Study) http://www.nps.gov/undergroundrr/
3) Underground Railroad http://www.cr.nps.gov/delta/underground/under.htm
4) Underground Railroad Resources in the US http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/thhome.htm
5) Underground Railroad Parks- A Shared History (Requires pdf reader) http://crm.cr.nps.gov/archive/20-2/20-2-7.pdf
6) The Underground Railroad - A Study in Heroism (Requires pdf reader) http://crm.cr.nps.gov/archive/19-2/19-2-6.pdf
 
Underground Railroad . . . Then What Happened? from Southern Poverty Law Center
http://www.splcenter.org/cgi-bin/goframe.pl?dirname=/teachingtolerance&pagename=tt-60.html
This article examines the Canadian connection to the Underground Railroad.
 
Websites for Teachers
Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky (Grade1) from AskERIC
http://www.askeric.org/Virtual/Lessons/crossroads/sec3/k2/unit6/u6g1l2.htm
(Grades 4-5) http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/curriculum/socialstd/MBD/Aunt_Harriet2.html
These lesson plans accompany the book of the same name involves the study of simile.
 
Climb Aboard the Underground Railroad T.O.U.R! from Education World
http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr195.shtml
Here you find the details of an online curriculum project involving teachers and students studying the Underground Railroad.
 
Educator's Guide to...'Follow the Drinking Gourd'
http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/planetarium/ftdg1.htm
'Follow the Drinking Gourd' is a coded song that gives the route for an escape from Alabama and Mississippi. Of all the routes out of the Deep South, this is the only one for which the details survive. The route instructions were given to slaves by an old man named Peg Leg Joe.
 
Underground Railroad Project from Vermont Historical Society
http://www.state.vt.us/vhs/educate/ugrrteac.htm
This series of web pages are part of a published document packet containing materials for studying the underground railroad; includes historical essays, primary source documents, a case study, and lots of teaching suggestions.
 
With Miles To Go Before I Sleep . . . (Grades 5-8)
http://www.co-nect.com/Schools/Railroad/
This web-based simulation starts with: The year is 1850. The Fugitive Slave Law has just passed -- bad news for you and your small group who have just managed a narrow escape from slavery landing in Ripley, OH. Alas, you thought your adventure was over.
 

slave
freedom
escape
abolition
journey
conductor
E. P. Lovejoy
trek
lantern
Fugitive Slave Act
Harriet Tubman
sympathizer
Canada
North Star
walk
river crossing
'Moses'
slave states
safe house
runaway
Frederick Douglas
Dred Scott Decision
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Quaker
antislavery
guide
maroon settlement
hiding place
Missouri Compromise
disguise
Kansas-Nebraska Act
Civil War
Emancipation Proclamation
Polaris
'Drinking Gourd'
night
Big Dipper
'Peg Leg Joe'
station
free states
antebellum period
swamp
agent
quilt
Levi Coffin
passenger
fugitive
stationmaster
vigilance committee
bounty hunter
'promised land'
'freedom train'
codes
plantation

 
 
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson 1/99, Update 1/02. Update by Nancy Smith 9/02