Introduction to Freedom Roads and the Underground Railroad


Introduction to Freedom Roads and the Underground Railroad

The Freedom Roads project is sponsored by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Park Service. To learn more about Freedom Roads in North Carolina, visit the NC African American Heritage Commission Site. 

Goals of this course

  • Provide content knowledge regarding Underground Railroad (UGRR) in NC
  • Make a complex story less cumbersome for the classroom
  • Provide models to engage audiences & students with Freedom Roads content
  • Motivate teachers and others to use Freedom Roads sites to tell the story
  • Provide museum educators with tools in best practices for research and sharing their stories with teachers and students

 What is Freedom Roads? 

The Underground Railroad refers to the effort of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage.

Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape, at first to maroon communities in remote or rugged terrain on the edge of settled areas. Their acts of self-emancipation made them “fugitives” according to the laws of the times, though in retropsect “freedom seeker” seems a more accurate description. While most freedom seekers began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, each decade in which slavery was legal in the United States saw an increase in active efforts to assist escape.

In many cases the decision to assist a freedom seeker may have been a spontaneous reaction as the opportunity presented itself. However, in some places, and particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Underground Railroad was deliberate and organized. Despite the illegality of their actions, and with little regard for their own personal safety, people of all races, classes and genders participated in this widespread form of civil disobedience. Spanish territories to the south in Florida, British areas to the north in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other foreign countries offered additional destinations for freedom. Free African American communities in urban areas in both the South and the North were the destination of some freedom seekers.

 For more information visit the National Park Service Page.


To learn more about North Carolina’s Freedom Seekers and Abolitionists – view this presentation: Freedom Roads Curriculum presentation

Discussions of Freedom Seekers and the world of enslavement is filled with a new vocabulary, to help understand the terms and concepts, visit the Glossary.

Workshop topic: How to Analyze an Artifact


We can use artifacts in a variety of ways to tell the stories of Freedom Seekers and Abolitionists.  It is an important step to accurately and clearly provide a well researched interpretation of an artifact for visitors and students.  Some of the tools below can help think about artifacts and their stories:

A Prezi to get us thinking:  How to Analyze an Artifact


Additional Resources: