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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

Underground Railroad: A Path to Freedom

Underground Railroad Header

Introduction | Primary Sources and Analysis Tools
Library of Congress Resources | Primary Source Set

Choose a link below to access printable PDF versions of these materials including additional information, color images and citations.
Underground Railroad: A Path to Freedom Resource Booklet
Primary Source Set

Library of Congress Resources


The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This exhibition showcases the incomparable African American collections of the Library of Congress. Displaying more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. A section of the exhibition focuses on the Emancipation Proclamation.
Accessed 1.26.09

The African-American Mosaic:  Abolition The Library of Congress has a wealth of material that demonstrates the extent of public support for and opposition to abolition. Broadsides advertise fairs and bazaars that women’s groups held to raise money for the cause. Other publications advertise abolitionist rallies, some of which are pictured in prints from contemporaneous periodicals. To build enthusiasm at their meetings, anti-slavery organizations used songs, some of which survive. The Library also has many political and satirical prints from the 1830s through the 1850s that demonstrate the rising sectional controversy during that time. Although excellent studies of the abolition movement exist, further research in the Library’s manuscripts could document the lesser known individuals who formed the movement’s core. Other promising topics include the roles of women and black abolitionists and the activities of state and local abolitionist societies.
 Accessed 10.20.08

Prints and Photographs

Images of abolitionist, drawing, wood carvings and images all pertaining to the Underground Railroad can be found in the Prints and Photograph collection.

American Memory

Places in the News:  Map Collections The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress holds more than 4.5 million items, of which Map Collections represents only a small fraction, those that have been converted to digital form. The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases and, in general, are restricted to items that are not covered by copyright protection.
Accessed 10.20.08

African-American Odyssey Collection:  Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 contains just over a hundred pamphlets and books (published between 1772 and 1889) concerning the difficult and troubling experiences of African and African-American slaves in the American colonies and the United States. The documents, most from the Law Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, comprise an assortment of trials and cases, reports, arguments, accounts, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings, journals, a letter, and other works of historical importance.
Accessed 10.20.08

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress  This collection presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The Douglass Papers contain approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass's life. It also includes a letter Douglass wrote to Lincoln on August 29, 1864, concerning a plan for helping slaves escape from the South.
Accessed 1.26.09

The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920 This selection of manuscript and printed text and images drawn from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society illuminates the history of black Ohio from 1850 to 1920, a story of slavery and freedom, segregation and integration, religion and politics, migrations and restrictions, harmony and discord, and struggles and successes.
Accessed 10.20.08

Built in America:  Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933- Present The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections are among the largest and most heavily used in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. This online presentation of the HABS/HAER collections includes digitized images of measured drawings, black-and-white photographs, color transparencies, photo captions, data pages including written histories, and supplemental materials.
Accessed 10.20.08

Historic American Sheet Music:  1850-1920 The Historic American Sheet Music collection presents 3,042 pieces of sheet music drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, which holds an important, representative, and comprehensive collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century American sheet music. This selection presents a significant perspective on American history and culture through a variety of music types including bel canto, minstrel songs, protest songs, sentimental songs, patriotic and political songs, plantation songs, spirituals, dance music, songs from vaudeville and musicals, "Tin pan alley" songs, and songs from World War I. The collection is particularly strong in antebellum Southern music, Confederate imprints, and Civil War songs and music. Also included are piano music of marches, variations, opera excerpts, and dance music, including waltzes, quadrilles, polkas, etc.
Accessed 10.20.08

America's Library

Designed for elementary and middle-school students, America's Library provides a look at individuals under Activists and Reformers and Jump Back in Time.

Meet Amazing Americans: Frederick Douglass

Meet Amazing Americans: Harriet Tubman

Jump Back in Time: Abolition in the District of Columbia

The American Folklife Center

Local Legacies Congress registered almost 1,300 Local Legacies projects from all 50 states, the trusts, territories, and the District of Columbia. Search for “underground railroad” resulted in information on events that occur at various locations.

Web Guides

The African-American History Month Page The Library of Congress is acknowledged as a leading resource for the study of the African American experience from the colonial period to the present. The Library's collections include the plays of Zora Neale Hurston, pamphlets from such notables as Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and the narratives of former slaves. Accessed 02.19.09

Harriet Tubman: Online ResourcesCompiled by Angela McMillian, Digital Reference Specialist. The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with Harriet Tubman, including manuscripts, photographs, and books. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to Harriet Tubman that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on Tubman and a bibliography containing selected works for both general and younger readers.
Accessed 02.19.09

Teacher's Page

Today in History is designed to help educators use American Memory Collections to teach history and culture. Click on the Archives link and search for Underground Railroad or individual names.

Presentations and Activities

Immigration... This feature has interactive information about the immigration of various groups of individuals to America. The section on Africans includes a page on Resistance and Abolition. Be sure to click on the globe for an animated demonstration of ports of entry.

From Slavery to Civil Rights  A Timeline of African-American History. This timeline features powerful primary sources and shares the timeline of the civil rights movement.

Collection Connection

Drawn from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society, The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920, explores the diversity and complexity of African-American culture in Ohio. Covering the time period 1850-1920, the materials illustrate several major themes: slavery, emancipation, abolition, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, Reconstruction, African Americans in politics and government, and African-American religion.




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