February is Black History month, a time to celebrate Black culture, heritage, and history. A part of Black History in the US is the Underground Railroad, a network of people who offered shelter, food, and aid to those escaping slavery during 1820-1860. At its height, almost 1000 enslaved people a year escaped to the North, West, the Caribbean, and Mexico from slave-holding states.
To this day, the railroad is a reminder of how people can come together to fight oppressive systems and help one another. In honor of that, we’ve gathered this list of 7 Museums to learn more about the Underground Railroad, its history, and its impact. Whether you visit in February during Black History Month, in September during International Underground Railroad Month, or another time of year; your kids will learn about brave men and women who escaped slavery and the heroic people that helped them.
Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, Washington, NC
Sharing the history of enslaved persons traveling on the Underground Railroad to freedom in North Carolina, this museum is a National Park Service Underground Railroad-Network to Freedom site. Learn about the history of Kalimbre (Fereby) Harrison, who helped people traveling the underground railroad to freedom, and had a unique gift known as ‘hearing’ giving her the ability to convey messages and information to aid in slave escapes.Adam Jones, Ph.D., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, Memphis, TN
The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum allows visitors to walk through a real antebellum home, which holds the secrets and concealed areas wherein fugitives would be hidden. Walk through over 200 years of history and experience the dangerous escape of those fleeing slavery.
National Underground Railroad Museum in the Bierbower House, Maysville, KY
The Bierbower House was known as a safe house for those traveling on the underground railroad. Retrace the steps of those who hid in the house, and the lives of the owners who risked everything to help those in need. Be sure to check out the floorboards, where fugitives were frequently kept to conceal them from the law.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Church Creek, MD
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is dedicated to an American hero and pioneer of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman. Located along the area in which Tubman lived, this center offers education, entertainment, and interactive learning. Learn about the life and times of this inspirational woman and her daring mission to help enslaved persons escape to freedom. Ask also about the self-guided driving tour, which takes you along 36 sites related to Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad Museum, Flushing, OH
The Underground Railroad Museum was founded in 1993 by the late Dr. John Mattox and his late wife, Rosalind, to preserve the past for future generations. With extensive memorabilia, documents, and books from the time period, this museum has a wealth of knowledge about all things relating to the Underground Railroad and its journey to Ohio. Many of the sources are gathered locally, to give a fantastic idea of how slavery and the Underground Railroad affected the surrounding area.
North Star Underground Railroad Museum, Ausable Chasm, NY
The North Star Underground Railroad Museum explores the journey of those traveling along the railroad through along the Upper Hudson River-Champlain and Canal-Lake Champlain corridor of northeast New York. Learn the story of John Thomas and his family, as they travel the railroad to freedom from Maryland. See how Quakers in the local area established safe houses and aid for fugitives.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center offers extensive interactive educational exhibits, events such as lectures from experts, and information on how slavery persists in the world today. Explore the permanent and special exhibits as well as sit in for an educational short film in their film exhibit. Be sure to check their upcoming events calendar to see what new and exciting things they have planned before your visit.
There are many Underground Railroad sites throughout the US. We encourage you to explore a site near you.