Lesson Plan

Leaders and Stories of the Underground Railroad

A black and white print of a older woman wearing a nearly transparent white bonnet, showing her dark hair beneath.
Lucretia Mott, a hero of the Underground Railroad.

Library of Congress

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Grade Level:
Seventh Grade-Twelfth Grade
African American History and Culture, Community, Government, History, Slavery, Social Studies
One to two class sessions
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Speaking and Listening SL (9-10).2, SL (9-10).4, SL (9-10).5, Reading Informational Text RI (9-10).1, RI (9-10).7
liberty, Slavery, Abolition, Underground Railroad


Students complete research on a leader from the Underground Railroad and their struggle for freedom, and share their learning with the class.


Students become aware of the diverse individuals who were leaders and heroes during this time of conflict and struggle in our nation, and gain an understanding that they themselves can make a difference and cause positive change to occur in the world through their words and actions.



Before the lesson:
Gather resources together that students can use in researching their Underground Railroad leader. Reserve the computer lab and/or A/V equipment, if necessary.

Formulate a plan for group assignments: how many students will be in a group? How large will the groups be? Will the research topics be assigned by the teacher of chosen by the students?

List of leaders sheet: A list of the UGRR leaders and websites for students to use in research
Research Guide sheet: Questions to lead students in their research
Primary Resource Documents are available at the Library of Congress website.



Students should use the information gained from this activity, along with what they have learned from the other lessons and from using the suggested video, web, and print resources, to begin to brainstorm their ideas for an essay on the Underground Railroad.

After your class' site visit to Independence National Historical Park to experience the Underground Railroad School Program, the students will have a wealth of knowledge, information, and experience to bring to their essay writing. 

The Underground Railroad essay question is:
What do you think are the most important lessons learned from the stories and leaders of the Underground Railroad, and how can you apply them to your life?

Park Connections

This lesson plan helps students understand the promise and paradox of liberty granted in our nation's founding documents.


National Geographic has an excellent web simulation of the Underground Railroad that students can do independently.

Additional Resources

Print Resources:
Ayres, Katherine. North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad. Yearling Books, 2000.

Ayres, Katherine. Stealing South. Yearling Books, 2002.

Bial, Raymond. The Underground Railroad. Houghton-Mifflin, 1999.

Blockson, Charles L. African Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground, An Illustrated Guide. RB Books, 2001.

Fradin, Dennis Brindell. Bound for the North Star: True Stories of Fugitive Slaves. Houghton-Mifflin, 2000.

Hanson, Joyce and Gary McGowan, and James Ransome. Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad. Cricket Books, 2003.

Lasky, Kathryn. True North: A Novel of the Underground Railroad. Scholastic, 1998.

Sterling, Dorothy. Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman. Scholastic, 1991.

Switala, William J. Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania. Stackpole Books, 2001.

Web Resources:
The National Park Service Underground Railroad Website

The History Channel's Underground Railroad Website

Library of Congress African American Odyssey Website

National Geographic Underground Railroad Simulation Website

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

PBS Underground Railroad-Africans in America Website

NASA Website that explains the meaning of the song Follow the Drinking Gourd


Abolitionist, anti-slavery, fugitive, Underground Railroad

Last updated: September 11, 2015