Run for Your Life
Since 2004, the New-York Historical Society has presented a series of exhibitions that explore the idea of freedom, emphasizing the history of slavery, resistance, abolition and the Underground Railroad. These major exhibitions have been complemented with an array of public programs, educational programs, websites and cell phone/iPod tours of sources and sites relating to New York’s role in the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movement. The New-York Historical Society was one of the very first institutions collecting during the height of the Underground Railroad movement from the 1830s to 1860s, an effort that began even earlier in the aftermath of the American Revolution with the founding of the Manumission Society. Following is a list of resources that you can access throughout the New-York Historical Society website.
The Run for Your Life Project of recent and current exhibitions, tours, programs and educational activities was developed with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program.
The New-York Historical Society has collections dating to the Dutch era which offer insight into slavery, its opponents and the stories of those who escaped from bondage. Artifacts include documents from the trial of a slave uprising in 1712; merchant accounts about the slave trade; letters from victims of the anti-slavery rioters in 1834; thousands of abolitionist pamphlets; broadsides and journalism from the black press and the Committee of Vigilance, which helped such notable freedom seekers as Frederick Douglass; and the papers of the New York Manumission Society which detail the long, slow struggle to end slavery in New York and to supply the free black community with schools and skills. Paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and photographs also document African American history relating to slavery, abolition and resistance, providing a rich context for the study of escaping slaves and the Underground Railroad.
- Click here to view a selection of Underground Railroad Collections at the Historical Society
- Click here to view the Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery
Library Research Guides
Audio and Visual Tours
- Walking Talking Tours Hidden Sites of Slavery and Freedom : Click here to download
- Exhibition Podcast "Run for Your Life": Click here to download
Exhibitions and Websites
- Grant and Lee in War and Peace
- New York Divided
- Slavery in New York
- Seneca Village
- Examination Days: The New York African Free School Collection
Professional Development for Teachers
The education department offers a variety of professional development programs for teachers and administrators, ranging in length from afternoon workshops to week-long sessions. Many of these programs address the history of the Underground Railroad and provide context for understanding the organization and the social and political issues that challenged it.
School Group Tours
Students take on the role of historians in workshops related to the Underground Railroad based on our permanent collections and special exhibitions. Take a field trip to the museum, or bring the museum to your classroom through an outreach program.
- The Underground Railroad
- History of Slavery in New York from Colonization to Emancipation
- History of the African American Experience in New York: 1827–1865
American Musicals Project
Three units of the New-York Historical Society’s unique American Musicals Project curriculum tie together the Revolutionary period with the Underground Railroad.
For downloadable curriculum guides from Slavery in New York, New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War please visit:
- New York Divided Education Page
- Slavery in New York Education Page
- Lincoln and New York Education Page
Podcasts from past public programs include:
- Frederick Douglass, Lincoln and the Civil War with David Blight, Harold
- Holzer, James O. Horton, and Charles Turner (December 4, 2006)
- The March: An Evening with E.L. Doctorow (January 25, 2007)
- On the Shoulders of Giants with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Howard Dodson
(January 29, 2007)
Links to Underground Railroad Related Sites
- Click here for clips from the April 2010 - New York conference on Underground Railroad History
- Aboard the Underground Railroad: A National Register Travel Itinerary
- Connecticut Freedom Trail
- John P. Parker House
- MAAP: Mapping the African American Past
- Michigan Freedom Trail Commission
- National Underground Railroad and Freedom Center
- National Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom
- REBELLION: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, the First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
- The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Washington D.C.
- The Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn NY
- The Ohio Historical Society Underground Railroad Information Station
- The Underground Railroad in Canada
- Amistad Research Center, Tulane University
- The Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum of Philadelphia
- Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC)
- Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site