The Underground Railroad

To learn more about the Underground Railroad, visit our programming blog and see the Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad photography exhibit at West Wyandotte Library.

Non-Fiction

Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad by Jeanine Michna-Bales
The book that accompanies the exhibit presents a remarkable series of images, along with an introduction by Michna-Bales, a foreword by noted politician, pastor, and civil rights activist Andrew J. Young, and essays by Fergus M. Bordewich, Robert F. Darden, and Eric R. Jackson.

A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom: Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation by David W. Blight
Slave narratives are extremely rare, with only 55 post-Civil War narratives surviving. A mere handful are first-person accounts by enslaved people who ran away and freed themselves. Now two newly uncovered narratives join that exclusive group. Also on Hoopla.

Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory by David W. Blight
 Artfully displaying illustrations and artifacts together with essays by leading American historians, the book explores the wealth of lore about the Underground Railroad that grew in the national culture after emancipation. 

Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad by Blaine J. Hudson
 From the Abolitionist Movement to the Zionville Baptist Missionary Church, this encyclopedia focuses on the people, ideas, events, and places associated with the interrelated histories of enslaved people, the African American struggle for equality, and the American antislavery movement. 

Freedom by Any Means: Con Games, Voodoo Schemes, True Love and Lawsuits on the Underground Railroad by Betty DeRamus
Drawn from unpublished memoirs, census records, government reports, periodicals, books, and much more, this narrative reveals how men and women were willing not just to risk their lives to escape the slave system but able to use their intelligence and cunning to manipulate the system, outwit slave traders and brave the unknown in order to assert their humanity.

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad by Eric Foner
Building on fresh evidence–including a detailed record of escapes secretly kept by Sydney Howard Gay, one of the key organizers in New York–Foner elevates the underground railroad from folklore to sweeping history. Also on Hoopla.

From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline Tobin
This book presents the men and women who established the Railroad and the people who traveled it. Some are well known, like Harriet Tubman and John Brown, but there are equally heroic, less familiar figures here, as well. Also on Hoopla.

Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad by Mary Kay Ricks
On the evening of April 15, 1848, seventy-seven enslaved people attempted one of history’s most audacious escapes–and put in motion a furiously fought battle over slavery in America that would consume Congress, the streets of the capital, and the White House itself.

Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline L. Tobin, Raymond G. Dobard, et al.
The fascinating story of a friendship, a lost tradition, and an incredible discovery, reveals how enslaved men and women made encoded quilts and then used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad.  

Fiction

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young enslaved person’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. In this ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
When Hiram’s mother was sold away, he was robbed of all memory of her but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. Also on Hoopla.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is compelled to join the Underground Railroad network to help enslaved people escape to freedom.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin
A stunning debut that intertwines the story of an escaped enslaved woman in 1852 Virginia with that of an ambitious young lawyer in contemporary New York and, in so doing, asks questions of justice, love, and family in slave-holding Virginia and today. Also on Hoopla.

Children’s Books

The Underground Railroad by Anne Heinrichs
Describes the Underground Railroad, a secret network of people who operated in the dark of the night, helping African-Americans escape from slavery in the southern United States.

The Underground Railroad: Navigate the Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Judy Dodge Cummings
Readers follow true stories of enslaved people who braved patrols, the wilderness, hunger, and their own fear in a quest for freedom.

Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton
Thirty-five inspiring stories describe ingenious escapes, desperate measures, and daring protests of formerly enslaved people.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
A fictionalized account of how in 1849, a Virginia enslaved person, Henry “Box” Brown, escaped to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.

Escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad by Conrad R. Stein
Presents the history of the Underground Railroad from its origins in the early 1800s to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865.

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate
The remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad.

Eliza’s Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary by Jerdine Nolen
A twelve-year-old enslaved girl begins writing in a journal where she documents her journey via the Underground Railroad from Alexandria, Virginia, to freedom in St. Catharines, Canada.

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
The making of “Show ways, ” or quilts which once served as secret maps for freedom-seeking enslaved people, is a tradition passed from mother to daughter in the author’s family.

Movies

Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad
This is the dramatic story of four enslaved people who escape from a cotton plantation in the South and travel along a clandestine network of escape routes, known as “the underground railroad,” to freedom in Canada.

Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
Tells the compelling story of William Still, one of the most unheralded individuals of the Underground Railroad, and details the accounts of black abolitionists who had everything at stake as they helped fugitives follow the North Star to Canada.

Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad 
Chronicles the workings of the Underground Railroad, from its creation and support by ex-enslaved people and white abolitionists to helping modern viewers get a sense of what it was actually like to risk life to make a dash for freedom in the darkness.

Whispers of Angels: A Story of the Underground Railroad
White Quaker Abolitionist Thomas Garrett and William Still, a free, black anti-slavery activist, “conducted” thousands of fugitives to freedom through the “corridor of courage,” through Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the streets of Philadelphia. Also on Kanopy.

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad
With powerful words and artwork, young audiences will be inspired by the thrilling biography of William Still, the Father of the Underground Railroad. Also on Hoopla.