Underground Railroad

Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.

The Underground Railroad was not a physical railroad at all, but a network of secret routes and safe houses used by African American slaves fleeing from the southern states in the United States to the northern states and Canada. Aided by free blacks, whites, Native Americans, and other slaves, more than 100,000 southern slaves found their way to freedom. Among these was Harriet Tubman one of the most recognized figures of the Underground Railroad. In addition to those actually assisting slaves in their flight were countless others calling attention to the evils of slavery and working to abolish it.

Identifying those who fled north or those who participated in some way may not be easy, as secrecy was paramount for all those involved. However, a number of primary and secondary source records are available on the Internet and elsewhere. A good starting place for research may be The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located on the banks of the Ohio River—the historic dividing line between North and South, slave and Free states. Among its many resources, which includes information on the many people and places associated with the Underground Railway, is the Underground Railroad Freedom Center's FamilySearch Center, dedicated to genealogy research and open to all. Many of the individual states associated with the Railroad may also have compiled resources to assist your search.

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