• Pink flowers blossom in the garden of a white two-room cottage.

    Herbert Hoover

    National Historic Site Iowa

Underground Railroad in Iowa 2009 Symposium Scheduled for June 19-20

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Date: June 11, 2009
Contact: Bonnie Blaford, (319) 643-7866

WEST BRANCH, IOWA— Before the Civil War, men, women, and children seeking to escape slavery in the South often sought refuge among Northern abolitionists in Cedar County, Iowa. Cedar County will be the site of the Underground Railroad in Iowa 2009 Symposium on June 19 and 20. Registration is not required and attendance at the presentations is free. Admission to the exhibits at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum is not included.

The symposium kicks off on Friday night, June 19 with a night walk through tallgrass prairie. Join park ranger Chuck Ping and archaeologist Douglas Jones for a star orientation and discussion of night travel through the Iowa prairie as fugitive slaves may have experienced it while they escaped along the routes of the Underground Railroad. Meet at the parking lot of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum at 9:00 p.m. Dress for the weather and for a walk in the prairie.

The symposium continues on Saturday, June 20 at 9:00 a.m. in the auditorium of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum. Presenters from the National Park Service, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and other organizations will discuss recent research and developments regarding the Underground Railroad in Iowa. At 2:45 p.m., the symposium will move from the Presidential Library & Museum to a cemetery in nearby Springdale, Iowa—the site of recent research on the Underground Railroad—and then to an Underground Railroad themed rest stop along Interstate 80.

Presentations on Saturday, June 20, 2009 include:

9:00 a.m.: Welcome from Cheryl A. Schreier, Superintendent of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and James Hill, Program Manager of the Midwest Region National Underground Railroad Network

9:10 a.m.: “Cedar County, Iowa: A Door to Freedom”, exhibit debut presented by Douglas Jones, State Historical Society of Iowa and Nicole Palmer and Sarah Sadrakula, University of Iowa

9:45 a.m.: “Interpreting the Underground Railroad to Iowans of All Ages”, presented by Galin Berrier, Des Moines Area Community College

10:45 a.m.: Break

11:00 a.m. “The Abolitionist’s Crusade and Its Connections to Illinois and Iowa Underground Railroad Operators”, presented by Owen Muelder, Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Center

12:00 p.m.: Lunch

1:30 p.m.: “Recognition for John Brown’s 1859 Trip Across Iowa: The John Brown Freedom Trail”, presented by Lowell Soike, State Historical Society of Iowa

2:00 p.m.: “Let the Oppressed Go Free: Women and the Underground Railroad in Cedar County, Iowa”, presented by Laura J. Ping, Historian

2:30 p.m.: Break

2:45 p.m.: Travel to North Liberty Cemetery near Springdale, Iowa (weather permitting)

3:10 p.m.: “The Search for Freedom Seekers at North Liberty Cemetery, Cedar County, Iowa”, presented by Douglas Jones, State Historical Society of Iowa

3:45 p.m.: Travel to the Underground Railroad themed rest stop on Interstate 80, eastbound at milepost 270 between the Tipton and Wilton Interchanges

4:00 p.m.: “Myths, Legends and Lore of the Underground Railroad and Historical Interpretation”, presented by Douglas Jones, State Historical Society of Iowa

4:30 p.m.: End of symposium

The Underground Railroad in Iowa 2009 Symposium is presented by Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, the Cedar County Historical Society, and the University of Iowa Museum Studies Program. For more information and a complete schedule, call Bonnie Blaford at (319) 643-7866.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. Parking is limited so please allow extra time to find a parking space.

Did You Know?

Black and white photo of the mustached Charles Curtis.

Herbert Hoover's vice president Charles Curtis was of almost half American Indian ancestry. Curtis’ mother was one quarter Kaw, one quarter Pottawatomie and one quarter Osage. More...