In May 1850, Frederick “Shadrach” Minkins fled slavery in Virginia and settled in Boston, Massachusetts where he joined Twelfth Baptist Church. John Debree, his former owner, followed him to Boston and provided U.S. Deputy Marshal Patrick Riley with an affidavit to arrest Shadrach. Boston’s black community provided legal representation for Shadrach and many white abolitionists attending the hearing. At the end of the hearing, black abolitionists captured Shadrach and smuggled him to Cambridge. Slave owners and abolitionists turned his rescue into a national political issue.
Located at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the Dred Scott Case Collection, which went online in 2000, was the first significant digital library project undertaken by the Washington University Libraries. A partnership between the Missouri State Archives, Washington University faculty members, and the Washington University Libraries, the original digital collection brought together legal materials documenting the Dred Scott case, a prominent legal battle regarding slaves’ status in the decade leading up to the Civil War. In 2007, the collection was expanded from eighty-five to one hundred and eleven documents, over 400 pages of text. In addition, the collection is now a full-text, searchable resource that represents the full case history of the Dred Scott Case.
Produced by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which manages the Michigan Historical Museum, this website is a kids-friendly internet space that allows children to learn about the Underground Railroad and its activities in Michigan. The website features a small timeline and historical overview of Ramptown, along with the stories of freedom seekers such as the Crosswhites, who arrived safely in Canada with the help of Michigan Underground Railroad activists. There is also a Teacher's Resource Guide.
Theodore Dwight Weld was one of the most active and influential abolitionists. Weld was born November 23, 1803 in Hampton, Connecticut to a Congregational minister. In 1824, his family moved to the “burned-over district” where Weld was deeply influenced by the region’s religious revivals. He originally supported colonization but by the 1830s had begun to question its morality. In 1834 he organized the Lane Theological Seminary Debates, where students met to discuss slavery. Transformed by the debates, Weld began traveling through Ohio and New York to convince others of abolition’s importance. His efforts brought in hundreds of newly converted abolitionists to New York’s Anti-Slavery Societies. After the Civil War he lectured politicians to give federal rights to African Americans.
Thomas Garrett was a prominent abolitionist on the Underground Railroad in Delaware. Garrett was born to Quaker parents in Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania on August 21, 1789. He was outspoken and uncompromising about his anti-slavery beliefs and never shied away from speaking about his activity on the Underground Railroad. In 1848 two Maryland slave owners sued him for helping their “property” escape slavery. The court ruled in their favor and repossessed all of his property. Despite being left penniless, Garrett addressed the court and gave an hour-long speech about the ills of slavery immediately following his trial.
The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, Michigan is a 501c3 nonprofit organization located in Cass County, Michigan, that resulted from a group of area residents, historians and community activists meeting over several months in 2008-2009 to discuss the African American experience in Cass County. The group formalized and organized a website to share insights on the rich history of the UGRR in Cass County. The Cass County Underground Railroad Society website provides an overview of the history of the Underground Railroad, with particular emphasis on its activity in the western area of Michigan. The website provides links to further readings about the unique history of Cass County and its Quaker farmers and free blacks role who helped in UGRR efforts. UGRR maps and timelines are featured on the website. The site also features information on the restoration of the James E. Bonnie House, a site of 19th century UGRR activity.
The Alderman Library, located at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, features this website about the cultural history of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and antebellum-era American literature. Bringing together documents from 1830 to 1930 that both preceded and responded to the classic work, the website provides a vast amount of primary source material such as sound clips, illustrations, manuscripts, and relevant legal cases. These documents are also supplemented by a section of interpretive materials, which features essays by a dozen scholars written to provide ways of exploring and understanding the primary source materials. The website also includes an interactive timeline, lesson plans for teachers, and student projects.
The UGRR Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio is a state of the art educational center with a website funded by the U.S. Department of that offers extensive online historical content, including timelines, maps, lesson plans, and oral histories. In addition to exploring the history of the UGRR using primary sources and narratives, and the significance of historical figures such as Henry ‘Box’ Brown, Margaret Garner, and John Rankin, the website also features an online exhibit of documents relating to Fredrick Douglass. Within the website’s Teacher Resources section, one can explore a variety of educational resources regarding the Underground Railroad and the broader story of America's struggle for freedom. The website also features a link to the Freedom Stations Program, a national outreach program linking historic Underground Railroad websites, research centers, university library collections, museums, and historic preservation efforts through the National Underground Railroad Freedom...
“Voices from the Days of Slavery,” a digital collection at the Library of Congress, consists of seven hours of recorded interviews that took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine southern states. The interviewees, twenty-three in all, were born between 1823 and the early 1860s. In these recordings, the interviewees discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of the enslaved, their families, and freedom. Each interview has been cataloged individually based on subject, names, places, and song titles discussed. Also featuring an image gallery and biographies of the interviewees, this oral history collection is a highly valuable research tool.
The Detroit River region was a critical strategic locale for the War of 1812 between the U.S. and the British. In Detroit, Governor William Hull mustered a black militia composed of thirty-six black men, some of whom were former slaves who had fled their Canadian owners. Though Detroit’s black militia was never used in battle, its presence helped in the rapid demise of slavery on either side of the Detroit River. Black sailors were critical for Admiral Perry’s victory over the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie. Nationally, free blacks and fugitive slaves fought in many battles, most notably General Andrew Jackson’s black regiments who were crucial for the U.S. victory in the Battle of New Orleans. After the War of 1812, returning black soldiers spread the word about Canada as a legally safe place for African Americans seeking freedom.