The "Journey to the North; New York's Freedom Trail" exhibit is
available for loan to not-for profit, educational institutions.
New York State was at the forefront of the Underground Railroad movement. It was a major destination for freedom-seekersº
for four main reasons:
- Destination & Gateway
New York was a gateway to liberation for freedom-seekers (often referred to as escaped slaves). Its prime location,
with access to Canada and major water routes, made it the destination of choice for many Africans fleeing slavery
along the eastern seaboard.
- Safe Haven
Freedom-seekers knew they would be protected in New York's many black communities as well as Quaker and other
progressive white and mixed race communities. A large and vocal free black population was present after the
manumission (freeing) of slaves in New York State in 1827.
- Powerful Anti-Slavery Movement
Anti-slavery organizations were abundant in New York State - more than any other state. The reform politics and the
progressive nature of the state gave rise to many active anti-slavery organizations.
- Strong Underground Railroad Leaders
Many nationally-known and locally influential black and white abolitionists chose to make their homes in New York.
Among them were: Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Gerrit Smith, Henry Ward Beecher, Sojourner Truth and John
º Freedom-seeker, although a contemporary term, captures the essence of the
experience of fleeing slavery far better than the term escaped or fugitive slave, which carries a negative connotation.
Additional Underground Railroad Resources
Aboard the Underground Railroad: A National Register of
Historic Places Travel Itinerary
Provides descriptions and photographs on 61 historic places that are listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic
Places and related to the Underground Railroad. It also includes a map of the most common directions of escape taken on the
National Geographic Society interactive web site about the Underground Railroad. The site presents options at every stage of an
escape allowing a visitor to make choices and experience consequences based upon historical facts.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
A comprehensive encyclopedia of people and places associated with the Underground Railroad. It also contains links to
related sites useful for students and educators.
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual
A collection of images related to American slave trade and slave societies. The images were compiled from a variety of sources and
are comprised primarily of visual documents dating to the period of slavery. The exhibit is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for
the Humanities and by the Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia.
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery,
Resistance and Abolition
Resources from the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, a division dedicated to the examination of the Atlantic slave
system and its destruction. This site addresses academic studies of the role of slavery, slave resistance, and abolition, and it links
to information regarding curriculum, bibliographies, and calendar of events.
Slavery in America
For educators, on "Slavery and the Making of America," was created by series underwriters, New York Life. It includes an image
gallery, lesson plans, an encyclopedia of topics relevant to slavery, and an interactive exhibition called "Roads to Freedom," which
examines the ways slaves faced the challenges of escape.
African American World
Explores the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. The site provides information on the history
of African Americans from the 1400s to the present.
Africans in America
The "Africans in America" PBS series companion site provides in depth information about the history of slavery in America. These
resources include historical narratives, images and documents, as well as a teacher's guide.
Digital History: African American Voices
Offers links to primary documents related to slavery in America and essays on various aspects of the slave experience, including
the middle passage, family life, economics, and abolition.
Documenting the American South: The Southern Experience in 19th-Century America
Access to digitized texts, images, and audio files related to Southern history from the colonial period to the early 20th century. The
collection of books, diaries, and letters offers a rich selection of sources on slavery and the African American experience. The site is
sponsored by the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Search the New York Public Library's invaluable holdings of books, art objects, and videos related to the African Diaspora and
African American culture and history. Of special interest are links to Digital Schomburg: Images of African Americans from the 19th
Century, and "Lest we forget: The Triumph over Slavery," an online version of the UNESCO traveling exhibition.
A listing of Underground Railroad Websites and Books: