Welcome teachers! If you’re here, you’re probably thinking
and planning a unit on Underground Railroad history. Materials listed
in this section are age-appropriate, instruction-friendly and of the best
Scroll down to explore
a rich variety of materials in print, on-line, graphic/visual, video and
audio formats. Print resources are separated into General, Wisconsin-specific,
Civil War, and Primary Source categories. Websites are categorized as
General Underground Railroad History, Wisconsin, Artifacts and Documents,
and Civil War. Finally, sources for collections of classroom curriculum
materials, videos, primary source documents, photos, and music are listed.
Please note: interlibrary loan requires 1-2 months lead time
Freedom Train North:
Stories of the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin by Julia Pferdehirt.
Collection of true stories from primary sources of people, places, and
events on Wisconsin’s underground railroad.
Railroad by Charles Blockson. Prentice-Hall NY, 1987. Eyewitness
Slavery Time When
I Was Chillun; by Belinda Hurmence. First-person narratives. In the
1930s, elderly men and women recall their childhood spent in slavery.
From Slave Ship
to Freedom Road by Julius Lester. True and fictional stories, history,
thoughts to ponder, powerful, amazing illustrations. A sensitive, superb
The Last Safe House
by Barbara Greenwood. Well done combination of historical sidebars and
short articles interspersed with an ongoing fictional story young readers
No More: Stories
and Songs of Slave Resistance by Doreen Rappaport and Shane Evans.
Songs, beautiful verse, and true stories told well.
by Doreen Rappaport. Based on a true story of a free African American
abolitionist who helped people running from slavery in Ohio.
They Came in Chains:
The Story of the Slave Ships by Milton Melzer. The Middle Passage;
the story of slave ships crossing the Atlantic.
Many Thousand Gone
by Virginia Hamilton. Probably the finest book of African American
history for young readers. Virginia Hamilton’s usual steller writing
Escape from Slavery:
Five Journeys to Freedom by Doreen Rappaport. Harper-Collins, NY 1991.
Five fictionalized accounts of actual escapes.
Get on Board: The
Story of the Underground Railroad by Jim Haskins. Scholastic, NY,
1993. Contains timeline, anecdotes, reward posters.
Our Song, Our Toil
by Michele Stepto. Milbrook Press, 1994. Written using interviews with
former slaves gathered in the 1930’s.
Escape from Slavery by Doreen Rappaport. New York: HarperCollins,
1991. Fictionalized versions of true stories including Henry “Box”Brown,
William Still’s rescue of a slave in Philadelphia, Ellen and William
Craft’s marvelous “masquerade” escape, and the story
of how Selena and Cornelia Jackson walked right past their master –
dressed as boys!
Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave by
Virginia Hamilton. Knopf, 1988. A true story of one man’s forced
return to slavery. *see Many Thousand Gone above.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Her
Wagon Wheels by Barbra Brenner. Demco Media, Madison (800) 448-8939.
I Can Read book based on an actual incident; Osage Indians saved the lives
of freedmen in Kansas just after the emancipation.
Thee Hannah by Marguerite de Angeli. Story of Quaker child for
Reminiscences of Levi Coffin by Levi Coffin. Available on interlibrary
loan. True stories of the “reputed president of the underground
railroad” who helped thousands of fugitives to freedom.
The Bill of Rights by Milton Meltzer. Sixth grade and older.
Clear, excellent presentation of the legal issue of civil rights in America
with discussion of slavery and other rights-related issues.
Walking the Road to Freedom by Jeri Ferris. Sojourner Truth’s
Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own
Words edited by Michael McCurdy. Douglass’ own words
Now is Your Time: The African-American Struggle for Freedom by
Walter Dean Myers. Thematic history for older readers.
Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers by Jean Fritz.
Biography of the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Run by Paul Fleishman. Collection of fictional characters at one
Civil War battle.
The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy. Lives of very young soldiers
in the Civil War
Charlie Skedaddle by Patricia Beatty. Civil War story.
Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil
War Spy by Seymour Reit. Union soldier “Frank” was really
a woman! Read her story here.
Primary Sources and Oral History
That Make U.S. History vol 1 by Edward Wakin. How photos have preserved
Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their
Own Stories by Ellen Levine
Wisconsin Period Histories and Books:
available via interlibrary loan or reference
The History of
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Volume 11: Chicago: Western Historical Company,
A History of Racine and Kenosha Counties. Chicago: Western Historical
The History of Walworth County: Chicago: Western Historical Company,
(FTN) Eliza Chappell
Porter: A Memoir, by Mary Porter. Chicago: Fleming Revell, 1880.
(available on Interlibrary Loan.)
(FTN) Slave Narratives. Published by Library of America, 2000.
volume 114 of the Library of America’s publications. Includes the
whole story of Jacob Green’s life.
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for Underground Railroad History
This excellent site provides good visuals including period photographs,
general history. The text may be difficult for some fourth grader readers.
Photos and short biographies of leading abolitionists are interesting.
Milton Historical Society, Wisconsin Underground Railroad Landmark.
Site includes many quotes and stories from Wisconsin UGRR history. See
Field Trips. For information call 608/868-7772.
Sources for reward posters:
Timeline of African American history
American Memories collection of the Library of Congress. Search this
website for topics like “ex-slave narratives,” or “reward
posters” or slavery AND photos. For example, search for “emancipation
proclamation” and you’ll find an 1863 sketch of Lincoln
writing this famous speech. Keep scrolling down and you’ll find
letters between Frederick Douglass and his sons, then volunteers in
the Union Army or a photo of African American soldiers listening to
the emancipation proclamation being read. http://www.loc.gov/ammem
Glover’s Rescue: This Wisconsin story is included in
Freedom Train North.
These websites offer primary source documents and other information:
Copies of reward posters
and anti-slavery broadsides are available on-line at http://www.chicagohs.org/AOTM/nov97fact3a.html
Other photos links here: slave auction, slavery general
Chicago Historical Society website: wonderful photos of artifacts like
slave auction or reward posters, leg irons used to restrain fugitive slaves.
Click on “Online projects” then “Arti-facts”
War Anti-Slavery Efforts:
Photos of fugitive slaves during the Civil War
At this website, click on Search. Search for contraband AND “fugitive
slaves”. Click on "Gallery view" You’ll
find period photos of people escaped from slavery at Union Army camps.
Text of the Emancipation Proclamation can be found at:
G reat collection of photographs about the Civil War:
Photos of soldiers from Civil War
Click on “Stories from Camp and Field” or “Veterans’
Biographies” for some great first-person stories, letters, bits
from diaries, photos, etc. of Wisconsin soldiers.
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Video, and Other Resources
Kits for Wisconsin teachers available for rental from Living
History Press, 7426 Elmwood Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562 608/836-7426;
firstname.lastname@example.org . A “unit in
a box” for classroom study of underground railroad history. Includes
“Steal Away” CD of slavery era songs, UGRR video. Storytelling
video from Milton House in Wisconsin, primary source documents and photos,
maps, current books*, reprints of National Geographic article, 12 spiral
bound collections of primary source documents linked to each story and
subject in Freedom Train North and teacher resource guide..
* Freedom Train North (5 cps); Many Thousand Gone; No More: Songs
of Slave Resistance; Freedom River; Slavery Time When I Was Chillun’;
Escape from Slavery; From Slave Ship to Freedom Road; The Last Safe House.
Music of the Underground Railroad by Kim and Reggie Harris. This
excellent collection is a good introduction to any unit study on Underground
Railroad history. The video and CD (Steal Away), include
numerous code songs used to keep underground railroad activity secret.
(P.O. Box 18871, Philadelphia, PA 19119; 215/548-1679)
Photos of everything from newspaper clippings to abolitionist
leaders to freedom papers and bills of sale from slave auctions are available
from The Picture Bank, 6631 Wakefield Drive, Alexandria
VA 22307; 703/768-8987. Owner Frank Wood will actually assemble a packet
of topic-related photos on the subject of the underground
railroad, slavery, black soldiers in the Civil War, etc. etc. upon request.
Prices are reasonable.
a Barrel, a short, readers’ theatre play based
on the rescue of Caroline Quarles is available from Living History Press,
7426 Elmwood Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562, 608/836-7462. email@example.com
The script is accessible to skilled fourth and fifth graders but most
appropriate for middle-schoolers and above.
A well-done, student-friendly video telling the story
of Joshua Glover done for Wisconsin Public Television. Content graspable
for middle school and older. Available at $9.95 from the Wisconsin Public
Television 53701. Evey Fleming, 608/263-4575 for orders. http://www.wicourts.gov/History/stand_the_storm.htm
to view information about the video.
Treasure Boxes: Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum in Madison.
608/264 6086. “Treasure boxes" with Civil War artifacts.
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For any remarks, suggestions, or broken links:
Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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