Boston: An Underground Railroad Hub

With many flourishes, banner on yellowed paper reads "The City of Boston An Underground Railroad Hub

NPS/Hanson Plass

 

“The object of our Association is to extend a helping hand to all who may bid adieu to whips and chains, and by the welcome light of the North Star, reach a haven where they can be protected from the grasp of the man-stealer…”

- The New England Freedom Association, 1845


Welcome to Boston: An Underground Railroad Hub, a digital exploration of Boston’s long history as a center of Underground Railroad activity. Through an evolving array of interactive maps, videos, articles, and other features, we invite you to learn about the freedom seekers that escaped to Boston and the people here that assisted them. Discover incredible stories of how Bostonians organized to shelter and protect those that came looking for their freedom. Hear about amazing individuals and associations that not only protested the fugitive slave laws of the country, but also militantly responded to fugitive slave arrests in the city.

Be inspired by the bravery of those who fled slavery and the collective action of Bostonians that helped them along their way to freedom.

 
Beacon Hill and West End neighborhoods of Boston

Boston's Underground Railroad

Learn about the integral role Boston and its citizens played on the Underground Railroad.

1852 map of Boston

Mapping the Underground Railroad

Explore this interactive digital map that highlights places in Boston connected to the Underground Railroad.

Title page text of the Boston Vigilance Committee Account Book with a faint Faneuil Hall engraving.

The 1850 Boston Vigilance Committee

Explore this ongoing exhibition that looks at the lives and activism of the more than two hundred members of the final Vigilance Committee.

Broadside of Anthony Burns Meeting in Faneuil Hall

A Man Kidnapped!

This seventeen minute film explores the rendition of Anthony Burns, told through those who witnessed the event in 1854.

Six silhouettes of women on left side over a map of Beacon Hill in Boston with title to right

Boston Women & the Underground Railroad

Learn about the contributions of the women who served as the heart of the free Black community on the north slope of Beacon Hill.

 

Story Maps

  • Printed portraits of Ellen and William Craft.

    William and Ellen Craft

    Explore a story map about William and Ellen Craft's remarkable journey to freedom from Macon, Georgia to Boston, Massachusetts and beyond.

  • Elizabeth Blakeley hiding on a ship

    Elizabeth Blakeley

    Read about Elizabeth Blakeley's escape to freedom on a vessel from North Carolina to Boston.

  • Newspaper advertisement about the sale of Shadrach Minkins

    Shadrach Minkins

    Learn about Shadrach Minkins' escape from slavery and daring rescue from slave catchers in this story map.

  • Sketch portrait of Thomas Sims.

    Thomas Sims

    Interact with this story map about Thomas Sims' path to emancipation, which took many years and several attempts.

  • Political Cartoon with a portrait of Anthony Burns

    Anthony Burns

    Follow Anthony Burns' path to freedom, which involved a failed courthouse rescue and a military takeover of downtown Boston.

  • Engraving portrait of Black American and freedom seeker Jane Johnson.

    Jane Johnson

    Learn about Jane Johnson's bold escape to freedom that led to her testifying against her enslaver in court.

 

Network to Freedom

 
Network to Freedom logo of star and profiled face.

Network To Freedom

Explore the sites and programs that share the story of the Underground Railroad.

Portrait of Lewis Hayden

Fighting For Freedom

A Network to Freedom film that looks at the life and accomplishments of abolitionist Lewis Hayden.

 

Articles

 
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    Last updated: January 11, 2022

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