Apply to the Network to Freedom

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Application

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program uses an application form (linked here). The form must be completed digitally - handwritten forms will not be accepted.

Before filling out the application, read the application instructions below. Once the application is complete, it can be sent via mail or digitally to the NPS Underground Railroad Regional Manager for your region. Applications are accepted twice a year by January 15 or July 15.

The Application Instructions are designed to help provide support as you fill out your application. The instructions are divided into four main sections:

I. National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

II. Completing the Application

III. Putting it All Together

IV. Process

Each section is divided into a series of subsections in order to provide you with as much information as possible on how to fill out your application most effectively.

Please use the drop down tool below to navigate to the specific part of the Application Instructions that you are looking for.

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National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Application and Partner Requests Instructions

OMB Control No. 1024-0232 - Expiration Date: 4/30/2023

Privacy Act Statement

General: This information is provided pursuant to Public Law 93-579 (Privacy Act of 1974), December 21, 1984, for individuals completing this form.

Authority: National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act (P.L. 105-203).

Purpose and Uses: The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add a statement to your letter of consent indicating what information you are willing to share. The DOI and NPS may use the information to meet reporting requirements, to generate budget estimates and track performance, and to assist park staff with visitors’ education, fee collection, resource management and protection, recreational use planning, law enforcement and public safety personnel for such purposes as emergency contact and search and rescue efforts; to provide permit holders and participants with information about parks and their partners; and to provide reports of activities conducted under an issued permit.

Disclosure: Voluntary. However, failure to provide the requested information may impede our ability to process your application. It is in your best interest to answer all of the questions. The U.S. Criminal Code, Title 18 U.S.C. 1001, provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony that may result in fines of up to $10,000 or 5 years in prison, or both. Deliberately and materially making false or fraudulent statements on this form will be grounds for not approving your application.

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Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

The authority to collect this information is the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act (P.L. 105-203). We will use this information to evaluate properties, facilities, and programs nominated for inclusion in the Network to Freedom. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Your response is required to obtain or retain a benefit. OMB has approved this collection of information and assigned control number 1024-0232.

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Estimated Burden Statement

Public reporting for this collection of information is estimated to average 40 hours per response for the application and 30 minutes per request to become a Network partner, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to the Information Collection Officer, National Park Service, 1201 Oakridge Drive Fort Collins, CO 80525.

Please do not send your completed application to this address.

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I. National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

What is the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad refers to efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape, at first to maroon communities in remote or rugged terrain on the edge of settled areas. Their acts of self-emancipation made them “fugitives” according to the laws of the times, though in retrospect “freedom seeker” seems a more accurate description. While most freedom seekers began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, each decade in which slavery was legal in the United States saw an increase in active efforts to assist escape. In many cases the decision to assist a freedom seeker may have been a spontaneous reaction as the opportunity presented itself. However, in some places, particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Underground Railroad was deliberate and organized.

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What is the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program?

Public Law 105-203, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998, directs the National Park Service (NPS), to establish a program that tells the story of resistance against the institution of slavery in the United States through escape and flight. This story is illustrative of a basic founding principle of this Nation, that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression. Through this National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (NTF), NPS is demonstrating the significance of the Underground Railroad not only in the eradication of slavery, but as a cornerstone of our national civil rights movement.

The NTF is coordinating preservation and education efforts nationwide, and is working to integrate local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories. There are three main components to the NTF:

  • Educating the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad;
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations that are identifying, documenting, preserving and interpreting sites, approximate travel routes and landscapes related to the UndergroundRailroad, or that are developing or operating interpretive or educational programs or facilities; and
  • Develop a Network of sites, programs, and facilities with verifiable associations to the Underground Railroad, referred to as the “Network”.

One of the principal objectives of the program is to validate the efforts of local and regional organizations, and make it easier for them to share expertise and communicate with the NPS and each other.

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What is the Network to Freedom?

The Network is a significant but distinct part of the NPS’ National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. It is a diverse collection of elements comprised of historic sites, facilities and programs that have a verifiable association to the Underground Railroad. Individuals and organizations themselves are not eligible for the Network, but rather they can nominate the sites, programs and facilities that they work with. The Network incorporates a broad range of listings that have been nominated and evaluated for their association to the Underground Railroad and have met certain established criteria.

Inclusion in the Network does not guarantee that a threatened site will be protected or that preservation will occur. Nor does it guarantee that a program or facility will receive financial assistance for planning or development. However, by including an element in the Network, the NPS acknowledges its verifiable association to the Underground Railroad. This recognition may be used by advocates to draw support for their preservation and commemorative efforts.

Each listing in the Network is authorized to display the NTF logo, which will tell the public and all interested entities that the NPS has evaluated the site, program, or facility and acknowledges its significant contribution to the Underground Railroad story. Each listing will appear on the NTF website, and will so alert the public to its existence and documentation.

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What types of elements are listed in the Network to Freedom?

In addition to preserving historic sites associated with the Underground Railroad, the NPS, through the Network to Freedom, attempts to tell a comprehensive story of the people and events associated with the struggle for freedom from enslavement. Much of the historic physical evidence of places—the buildings and landscapes—important to the Underground Railroad have been altered or destroyed. To convey the magnitude of this history, it is necessary to recognize commemorative and interpretive efforts, in addition to identifying and preserving the sites that remain. Consequently, the Network was designed to include not only sites, but also facilities and programs. By law, the Network includes the following categories or “elements”:

  • All units and programs of the National Park Service determined by the Secretary of the Interior to pertain to the Underground Railroad;
  • Other Federal, State, local, and privately owned properties pertaining to the Underground Railroad that have a verifiable connection to the Underground Railroad andthat are included on, or determined by the Secretary to be eligible for inclusion on, the National Register of Historic Places; and
  • Other governmental and non-governmental facilities and programs of an educational, research, or interpretive nature that are directly related to the Underground Railroad.

The last category, “governmental and non-governmental facilities and programs” is flexible and invites the inclusion of a variety of different categories of listings. Facilities and programs in the Network can have an educational, research, or interpretive scope, as long as they are directly related to, and verifiably associated with, the Underground Railroad. Facilities can include, but not be limited to, archives and libraries, research centers, museums and museum collections, and cultural or commemorative centers. Programs can be even more diverse in nature. They can include, but not be limited to, tours, interpretive talks, travelling exhibits, theater productions, living history presentations and educational programs.

Finally, there are a multitude of Underground Railroad-related sites around the United States that have suffered the impacts of prolonged negligence or developments inconsistent with the historical character of the site. For whatever reasons, these past activities may have left the site ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Nonetheless, these sites are often integral parts of the Underground Railroad story. Their significance should not be lost, so the Network to Freedom is designed to include these impacted sites, with the provision that they must be associated with some type of documentation and interpretation.

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What types of Underground Railroad associations are recognized in the Network?

Through its definition of the Underground Railroad as resistance to enslavement through flight, the Network to Freedom Program seeks to focus more attention on the freedom seekers themselves. Associations or connections to the Underground Railroad can encompass various activities. Common Underground Railroad associations include places of enslavement from which escapes occurred, water or overland routes, natural areas such as swamps or caves that were used as hiding places, churches with congregations active in the Underground Railroad (even if they were not used as safe houses), the location of legal challenges to the Fugitive Slave Act, maroon communities, destination settlements and even locations where the kidnapping of freedom seekers occurred. These are just some of the possible associations that define Underground Railroad activity. The definition is meant to be fluid to incorporate and encourage new and original investigations, interpretations and commemorative activities around the country.

While the Underground Railroad existed in the context of abolitionism and anti-slavery thought, those associations alone are not sufficient to include a site, facility or program in the Network to Freedom. Participation in the Underground Railroad—escaping from enslavement or assisting the freedom seeker—was a violation of the Federal fugitive slave acts after 1793, and hence illegal. Through their acts of civil disobedience, these individuals demonstrated a higher level of commitment to the principles of freedom and self-determination. It is this level of commitment that is recognized in the Network to Freedom. The line between general abolitionism and specific support of the Underground Railroad can be difficult to discern. Underground Railroad activity would certainly include activities such as sheltering a freedom seeker on one’s property or transporting them between safe havens. However, it might also include actions such as taking specific steps to assist freedom seekers or divert pursuers; raising or donating money, food or clothing; facilitating communications among participants; or assisting in the establishment of destination communities.

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What are the criteria for Network to Freedom eligibility?

The criteria for inclusion in the Network to Freedom are meant to establish a certain level of legitimacy, accountability, and accuracy in telling the Underground Railroad story. They have been designed, however, to be inclusive and flexible to include as wide a range of elements as possible.

  • Any element nominated to the Network must have a verifiable association to the Underground Railroad. These associations to the Underground Railroad must be verified using professional methods of historical research, documentation and interpretation. Supporting evidence must be documented in the application through specific citations that would allow the reader to recreate the research.
  • Any site, facility, or program that applies for inclusion in the Network must have the consent of the owner, manager or director. Public-owned properties must have consent from the site manager. A letter of consent from the property owner must accompany each application.

Sites

  • Places that are ineligible for the National Register or that do not have a determination yet, may be eligible for the Network if they have a demonstrated and verified association to the Underground Railroad, and some type of interpretation such as a commemorative or interpretive marker, educational program, brochure or site bulletin. The purpose of this requirement is to provide the public with some sort of contextual reference for understanding the significance of the site. The site must be identified by name and a statement that identifies its Underground Railroad association. Interpretation at a site that lacks integrity for eligibility to the National Register can take many forms:
    • interpretation by skilled guides
    • interpretive wayside exhibits
    • plaques
    • brochures
  • Sites on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places are not required to have an interpretive component to be eligible for inclusion in the Network. Because they physically look like historic places, they are able to convey a sense of the history better than a place where a completely modern building has been constructed on the site. Although not required, sites that are listed in the National Register are encouraged to developinterpretive signs or materials. For more information about the National Register and its criteria for eligibility, consult their website at www.nps.gov/nr

Facilities and Programs

Facilities and programs nominated to the Network to Freedom must exceed a minimum level of:

  • accuracy
    The NPS attempts to ensure that the history of the Underground Railroad is portrayed accurately by members of the Network to Freedom. Consequently, the source material on which interpretation and presentation of information are based must be delineated in the application. Sources should include primary materials [1] —letters, diaries, autobiographies, official records, where possible and scholarly publications. The sources should be as specific to the story presented in the program or facility as possible. This is, perhaps, the most important aspect of the application for supporting inclusion of the facility or program in the Network to Freedom, and often is the aspect most overlooked.
  • professionalism
    The NPS recognizes that many facilities and programs around the country operate on a volunteer basis and rely on scarce resources. Therefore, rather than require professional qualifications for staff, the Network to Freedom focuses on a professional approach to activities such as interpretation or curation that will indicate a high-quality presentation of the history of the Underground Railroad.

For example, basic professional standards that museums, archives and libraries should meet are:

  • a catalog system for their collections such as a finding aid or index for collections and
  • an ability to demonstrate the provenance, that is, the origin, source, authenticity, acquisition history and ownership of their collections.

All facilities and programs must be in operation and not solely in the planning stages. To this end, they must be able to demonstrate a past and ongoing commitment to interpreting or studying the Underground Railroad. Programs must have occurred at least once in the past and have a schedule for future activities.

Facilities

Due to their specialized nature, facilities must meet an additional requirement.

  • accessibility
    A goal of the Network to Freedom is to increase public knowledge and understanding of the Underground Railroad. Therefore, access to information, broadly defined, is a critical component of facilities. Facilities, such as libraries, archives and museums, must demonstrate a willingness to share information with the general public and researchers. They must either have regular hours of operation or be open by appointment. To the extent that it is feasible, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act should be addressed. For an explanation of the act see http://www.ada.gov.

Facilities--Research Centers

Research centers must meet two additional criteria. They should be able to demonstrate that:

  • the center director or key staff members have an appropriate level of training, which is usually recognized as, but not restricted to, at least having earned a Masters degree in an associated field of study, and
  • a record of operations through a measurable output, such as a past and ongoing production of a journal or reports.

Programs

Due to their specialized nature, programs must meet three additional requirements.

  • Applications must demonstrate that the program has a record of consultation with appropriate partners, subject experts, and community or regional support. Consultation is a critical stage in the development of any interpretation program. It is beneficial to consult with local residents and discuss potential impacts of new tours or programs on the area. It is important to include the perspectives of various local groups on Underground Railroad history. “Ownership” and interpretation of history are often a matter at issue.
  • A system must be established by the program managers for the evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. The goal of any interpretive or educational program is to increase knowledge and understanding of the audience. In order for program staff to ascertain whether the presentation of the information is accomplishing the educational objectives, a systematic method of feedback is essential. Insights gained from the evaluations should be used to refine the program in the future. Analyses of, and samples from, evaluations also assist NPS staff in reviewing program applications.
  • The primary content and intent of the program must be to convey information and knowledge about the events, people, and places of the Underground Railroad. Programs which use generalized information about the Underground Railroad to teach other topics are generally not eligible.
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Is a separate application required for a site that is already listed in the national register to be included in the Network to Freedom?

It is possible that an interested site, facility, or program has received some type of official recognition at the local, State, or Federal level in the past. However, Network to Freedom listing is a distinct recognition bestowed by a separate and independent program of the NPS. It is necessary, therefore, to document the case for inclusion according to Network standards.

As sites, programs, and facilities are added to the Network to Freedom, a unique database of the many stories and people of the Underground Railroad is being created. These applications will become part of a public record documenting the little known aspects of the Underground Railroad. Completed applications form part of the Network’s larger collection of sites, programs, and facilities associated with the Underground Railroad. This information is available to the public for research. As new information is added to the Network, scholarly interpretation of this important subject may be revised. The Network to Freedom also serves as a significant vehicle for presenting and publicizing the special stories associated with a site nationally and internationally.

The information presented in a completed Network to Freedom application should be self-contained and self-explanatory. The information should be clear and understandable to an individual who has no familiarity with, or has never seen the site, program, or facility described. While applications do not need to be lengthy, they should tell the full story of the Underground Railroad associations of the site, program, or facility.

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What are the benefits of being listed in the Network to Freedom?

Specific advantages of inclusion in the Network include:

  • National recognition of the verifiable association of historic sites, programs, and facilities with the Underground Railroad.
  • Inclusion in a Network database featured on the NTF’s web site, which includes standard information on every site, program, and facility that has been reviewed and accepted into the Network.
  • Eligibility for Network to Freedom grants, when funds are appropriated by Congress, and assistance in locating project funding. The Network to Freedom Program is working with partners to identify funding sources and raise funds to support interpretation and commemoration efforts.
  • The use and display of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom logo.
  • Inclusion in a nationwide system of comparable sites, programs, and facilities that fosters networking and coordinating educational, preservation and commemorative activities.
  • Technical assistance.
  • Organization of primary documentation ready for interpretive media.
  • Participation in a Network cancellation stamp program.
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II. Completing the Application

Before you begin your application

Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Regional Manager before and during the application process. While Network staffers are not in a position to conduct research or to write applications, we are prepared to provide technical assistance and guidance. Your Regional Manager can discuss the proposed site, facility, or program to advise on which category to select and how best to focus the application.

In many cases, an applicant may wish to apply under more than one category. For example, many historic sites may also offer interpretive programs. NPS will evaluate each aspect separately on its own merits. Consequently, a separate application is required for each category (site, facility, or program) the applicant chooses. If you are applying for more than one category, you should submit multiple applications. Conversely, you should only address the section of the application relevant to the category that you have selected.

The application must be as complete, intelligible and comprehensive as possible. Use a computer to complete the form; handwritten forms will not be accepted. Electronic versions of forms in “pdf” or Word-compatible formats are highly encouraged, and may be submitted by electronic mail. The information presented in a completed Network to Freedom application must be self-contained and self-explanatory. The information should be clear and understandable to an individual who has no familiarity with, or has never seen, the site, program, or facility described.

Please present facts that best illustrate your argument and avoid including information that does not directly address the entity’s connection to the Underground Railroad.

Attachments are considered supplements to the narrative, not substitutes for the narrative. It is acceptable to extract text from attachments, (whether formal curricula, pamphlets, mission statements, National Register nomination, etc.), and insert it into the application form itself as part of a narrative or essay describing the nominated entity and its association with the Underground Railroad.

The National Park Service retains all of the material submitted in the application process. When accepted, these materials become available for public use. If an application is not accepted, the materials are kept for NPS use for future reference, particularly if an application is resubmitted.

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Instructions for Completing the Application Form

Answers to questions on the application form are not limited to the space provided on the form. Additional pages and supporting information may be attached as necessary but be sure to identify the element name and item number addressed on each additional page of supplemental material and to number the pages. The form is available from the NPS electronically, and must be completed on a computer or scanned. The form can be downloaded along with instructions for completing application process. For further information, visit the program website at http://www.nps.gov/ugrr .

Please complete the application according to the instructions for each section.

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Cover page

This is a screen shot of the first page of the Network to Freedom Application (full, accessible version available for download at top of the webpage). The page reveals a complex table with 19 fields to be filled by the applicant. Fields described below.
Excerpt from Network to Freedom Application. Download the full application at the top of the web page.

NPS Photo/National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

Please address each item on the cover page.

  • Type:Select only one element type for each application.
  • Name (of what you are nominating):
    • Enter the name of the entity being nominated to the Network to Freedom.
    • Name sites for the historic figure(s) or events associated with the Underground Railroad history. The historic name is preferred for general reference because it continues to be meaningful regardless of changes in ownership or use and most often relates to the property’s significance to, or association with, the Underground Railroad. This practice helps to commemorate and honor these historic people.
    • The name should reflect the program, site, or facility, not the organization, company, or institution that owns or manages it.
  • Address:
    • Enter the street address or physical location of the site or facility being nominated. A post office box address is not sufficient for sites or facilities.
    • Make sure the address clearly indicates what is being nominated to the Network to Freedom.
    • For programs, enter the address at which program management or staff receives mail.
  • City, State, Zip:
    • Enter the city, State and zip code associated with the address listed above.
    • Nine digit zip codes, if they are available, are preferred.
  • County:Enter the county in which the site, facility, or program is located.
  • Congressional District:Enter the congressional district corresponding to the address given for the site, facility, or program. This information will be used to provide notification of acceptance in the Network.
  • Physical Boundaries of site/facility:
    • Provide the physical definition of the property. Explain what acreage surrounds the historic structure or the extent of the landscape or archeological site. Give the names of the nearest roads and describe if possible the property’s relationship to the roads, e.g., 1 mi. w. of jct. US 1 and Middletown Road.
    • For properties containing multiple physical features (architectural, archeological, or landscape components), use this space to provide either inclusive street address numbers for all components or a rough description of the boundaries, e.g. “12-157 Main Street,” or “Roughly bounded by Smithfield Lake, North and Lowell Avenues, and I-73,” or “Three blocks in downtown Athens centered around State Street.”
    • For institutional or government-owned properties, enter the name of the institution, district, forest, preserve, park, or other organizational division identifying the location of the property,
      • e.g., “Clifty Falls State Park,” “Camp Warren Levis,” “Wayne National Forest,” or “Minute Man National Historical Park.” Provide a description of boundaries.
    • Address not for publication:To protect fragile properties, particularly those subject to looting and vandalism, the NPS will withhold information about the location and character of the property from the public. If this item is checked, please provide an explanation.

  • Date submitted: Please enter the date that the application is submitted to the NPS.
  • To clarify status and accessibility to a private property for public please check answers to the following:
    Is there a website? Yes / No Web Address
    Is there a visitor Phone Number? Yes / No Phone Number
    Is the site open to the public? Yes / No Hours of Operation
  • Summary:
    • In 200 words or less, describe what is being nominated, summarize what makes the entity verifiably associated with the Underground Railroad, and describe what makes the program, facility, or site significant. Describe what the program or facility is or what the site looks like currently.
    • A clear summary is crucial to acceptance of a nomination. It should be a concise and clear account of the “case” being made for association with the Underground Railroad.
    • Statements made in the summary should be as definitive or authoritative as possible. Be mindful that statements must be documented and supported in the body of the application.
    • The summaries will be posted on the Network to Freedom web site. Technical considerations require these accounts to be limited to approximately 200 words.
    • Writing tip: It may be helpful to prepare the summary after you have completed the rest of the application.
  • Owner or Manager (Name, address, city, State, zip, phone, fax, e-mail):
    • Provide the name and contact information for the owner or manager of the site, facility, or program. Three address blocks are included in the case of multiple owners.
    • A complete and current address is required for notification purposes. Please inform NPS of any address changes that occur after acceptance of an application.
    • Nine digit zip codes, if they are available, are preferred.
    • Regional Managers use phone, fax, and email information to contact the owner/manager during the review process or to discuss the current status of the listing.
    • Privacy Information:The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add include a brief letter with the application package indicating what information you are willing to share.
  • Application Preparer (Name, address, city, State, zip, phone, fax, e-mail):
    • Provide the name and contact information of the individual(s) who prepared the application if different from the owner.
    • A complete and current address is required for notification purposes. Please inform NPS of any address changes that occur after acceptance of an application.
    • Nine digit zip codes, if they are available, are preferred.
    • Regional Managers use phone, fax, and e-mail information to contact the applicant during the review process or to discuss the current status of the listing.
    • Privacy Information:The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add include a brief letter with the application package indicating what information you are willing to share.
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Sites

This is a screen shot of the Network to Freedom Application specific to "Sites"(full, accessible version available for download at top of the webpage). The page reveals a complex table with 4 fields to be filled by the applicant. Fields described below.
Excerpt from Network to Freedom Application. Download the full application at the top of the web page.

NPS Photo/National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

Where to start?

  • Before beginning to prepare the application form, you should gather available information about the property or the community in which it is located.
  • Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Regional Manager (See Appendix A.) before and during the application process. While Network staff is not in a position to conduct research or write applications, we are prepared to provide technical assistance in the preparation and submission of applications. Your Regional Manager may be able to suggest local, State, and Federal sources of information of which you may not have been aware. Likewise, they may help you network with organizations or individuals in your area specializing in Underground Railroad research.
  • Applicants should contact the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) for the State in which the property is located, to determine what information on the property the State can provide. See http://www.nps.gov/nr/shpolist.htm to obtain the list of SHPOs (or contact your Regional Manager). The SHPO can help the applicant:
    • determine if the property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or included in a State survey and if so, the SHPO can provide a copy of the National Register or State survey forms documenting the property’s historic significance
    • determine if the property has any other local, State, or Federal historic designations or is already protected by a local or State ordinance
    • learn how the property relates to any historic "themes" or "historic contexts" prepared by the SHPO.
  • Information available from the above sources may relate to many of the application questions and may be helpful in completing the application.
  • There is a growing bibliography on the practice of documenting Underground Railroad sites. See Appendix B for a list of publications available from the NPS as well as a discussion, “Reconstructing the Stories of the Underground Railroad Movement,” on what constitutes sufficient documentation to authenticate Underground Railroad associations.

Completing the form for Sites

  • In addition to the responses to each question, applications must also include the following attachments. See page 35 for specific details regarding attachments, including photographs and supplemental materials. All attachments supplement, but do not replace, the text.
    • Letters of consent for inclusion in the Network to Freedom from all property owners
      • Property owners must consent to including their properties in the Network to Freedom. Applicants must attach a letter(s) of consent for inclusion in the Network from the property owner(s). Remember that for sites comprised of multiple property owners, each property owner must be notified, and a majority must consent to inclusion in the Network. Although property owners must consent to including their properties in the Network to Freedom, public access to the site is not required for inclusion.
      • Privacy Information: The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add a statement to your letter of consent indicating what information you are willing to share.
    • Text and photographs of all site markers
    • Photographs of site applying for inclusion in the Network.
      • Submit original photographs which illustrate the current condition of the site, showing significant features. Historic photographs, if available, are also encouraged.
    • Maps showing the location of the site.
      • Include a sketch map or site map that shows the site in the context of its surroundings and nearby features such as roads, waterways, etc.
      • For large or complex properties, indicate on the map the boundaries of what is included in the application.
      • Maps assist in understanding and evaluating the site in its geographical context and in determining what is being nominated for inclusion in the Network listing.
  • S1. Site type:
    • Check the site type that best describes the element. (If unsure, then check “Other” and describe.)
    • A building is a construction created principally to shelter any form of human activity; “building” may also be used to refer to a historically and functionally related unit, such as a house and barn, or a courthouse and jail.
      • Examples of buildings: carriage house, church, hotel, house, school, shed, stable, store, train station, city or town hall
    • An object is a construction that is primarily artistic in nature and is associated with a specific setting or environment. Small moveable "objects" not designed for specific locations are normally not eligible under this category. To be eligible for the Network to Freedom, objects should be located in a public space or visible and accessible to the public.
      • Examples of objects: fountain, monument, sculpture, statuary
    • A district (neighborhood) is a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development. This definition includes neighborhoods and large rural properties containing multiple physical features (architectural, archeological, or landscape components). A district must be a definable geographic area that can be distinguished from surrounding properties. The defined boundary for a district must be based upon a shared relationship between the properties constituting the district. Be clear about what is being included in the Network nomination. Consent of a majority of property owners (51%), must be obtained before a district can be listed in the Network to Freedom.
      • A district can contain buildings, structures, sites, objects, or open spaces that do not contribute to the significance of the district. For purposes of applying to the Network for a district significant for its association with the Underground Railroad, contributing properties must have been present during the time period in which the district played a role in Underground Railroad history. While districts may encompass components such as buildings or landscapes constructed after that time period, they are not considered to contribute to the district’s historic significance.
      • Examples of districts: business districts, college campuses, estates and farms with large acreage/numerous properties, residential areas, industrial complexes, waterfronts, rural villages, rural historic districts
    • A structure is a functional construction made usually for purposes other than creating human shelter. Network listing will include the entire structure, not simply its parts.
      • Examples of structures: boat or ship, bridge, canal, corncrib, dam, grain elevator, lighthouse, railroad grade, silo, tunnel
    • A landscape/natural feature is a location associated with a significant historic event.
      • Examples of landscapes or natural features: battlefield, cemetery, cave, river ford, ferry crossing, swamp, grove of trees, road, trail
      • For purposes of the Network to Freedom, the critical factor for a landscape is being able to document that this is the location where a significant event happened, even if the land use has changed over time.
    • An archeological site is a property associated with the Underground Railroad, such as a significant event, occupation or activity, where archeological survey or study has been undertaken and documented, which may be eligible for its potential to provide important information on Underground Railroad activities.
      • Examples of archeological sites: battlefield, campsite, ruins of a building or structure
  • S2. Is the site listed in the National Register of Historic Places? What is the listing name?
    • Consult with your Regional Manager for guidance.
    • If the site is listed in the National Register, check next to Yes.
    • Enter the name as it appears in the listing.
    • For information on the National Register, see http://www.nps.gov/nr/
  • S3. Ownership of site:
    • Check the ownership category that best describes the element.
    • If there are multiple owners, check all categories that apply.
  • S4a. Type(s) of Underground Railroad Association
    • Choose the type of association from the following list that the site has with the Underground Railroad. Select the one(s) that best fit.
    • Types of associations that sites may have with Underground Railroad activity can include, but not be limited to:
      • Stations on the Underground Railroad. These are locations where freedom seekers were harbored and their use as such has been documented. This could include buildings or natural features such as caves or swamps if their use can be verified. Stations are entire buildings or structures, not individual rooms or parts of larger buildings. Often, a station could be a farmstead, and may include outbuildings such as barns or corncribs. It is not necessary that stations have tunnels, hidden rooms, trap doors, or other secret hiding places. Many stations had none of these, and unless their use for Underground Railroad purposes can be clearly demonstrated, it is best to avoid relying on hiding places for purposes of verification and site interpretation. If the site cannot be documented as a station, it may be possible to group it under “associated with prominent persons.”
      • Properties associated with prominent persons. These persons include those individuals or groups who were actively involved in harboring freedom seekers or aiding them in other ways, or sites associated with known freedom seekers. Every property associated with a person significant in the history of the Underground Railroad may not be suitable for Network consideration. If there are several properties associated with the significant individual, they should be evaluated to determine which sites best represent the person’s historic Underground Railroad contributions. Communities or States may contain several properties that are eligible for the Network for their association with the same important person, if each property represents an important aspect of the person’s involvement in the Underground Railroad.
      • Legal challenges related to escape and flight. The struggle over the enforcement of the fugitive slave laws led many times to legal confrontations. Places associated with these cases tell part of the story of the resistance to enslavement. These will most often be courthouses, but may also include places where enslaved people or those who aided freedom seekers resided or were detained awaiting trial, or law offices where legal briefs and court strategy were prepared. Court records and trial transcripts provide a rich source of information about operations of the Underground Railroad in different communities and often include mention of local conductors.
      • Properties associated with documented escapes. These include places from which freedom seekers successfully escaped. They may be documented in plantation records, newspaper notices, slave narratives or other writings. An examination of plantation life lends context to the conditions from which enslaved individuals were fleeing. Places associated with those who remained behind and assisted others to begin their journey may also be recognized. These properties might include plantation quarters, workplaces, or the urban residences of enslaved people or free Blacks.
      • Properties associated with documented rescues. These may include homes of individuals who were primary figures in rescues, as well as the locations at which freedom seekers were rescued and places where they were subsequently harbored. Rallying places where crowds gathered or demonstrated in support of taking action to rescue freedom seekers may also be eligible.
      • Sites associated with kidnappings. These include locations—buildings, sites, or structures— associated with documented kidnappings, either of freedmen being forced into slavery or escaped freedom seekers re-captured by slave catchers.
      • Maroon communities. Groups of runaways were sometimes successful in forming small settlements. These were often in remote areas with marginal land such as swampy, rocky, or hilly terrain. These settlements were often active in assisting freedom seekers. These communities frequently were temporary, having few extant properties associated with them. They can be difficult to document. However, descendants of the people who formed these settlements may often still reside nearby. These descendants may have oral traditions passed down through their families which can provide clues to assist in documenting the sites.
      • Destination sites. A location where a freedom seeker settled may be eligible for the Network. These sites may be in the United States or in another country. Prior to 1850, freedom seekers often settled in northern States or sparsely settled areas. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made their situation more tenuous, many of these people relocated to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or other countries. Destination sites may also include locations where freedom seekers were heading when they escaped, such as a port, town, or natural feature, even if they ultimately did not settle at that location.
      • Churches associated with congregations active in the Underground Railroad. Underground Railroad activity was often an outcome of strong religious belief. A distinction must be made between congregations which supported the abolition of slavery in general (not typically eligible), and those (fewer in number) which went further and actively supported the Underground Railroad (considered eligible for the NTF). A distinction should also be made between churches where the congregation participated as a group, and churches associated with Underground Railroad participants who may have worshipped at them. In the later case, the church may be the best place to recognize the Underground Railroad contributions of the individual, but is not necessarily recognized for the congregation. Although freedom seekers were not usually harbored in churches, church congregations often provided monetary or other direct assistance. Congregations often used different buildings over time, and the current location may not be where the Underground Railroad activity took place. However, the current location of a congregation clearly descended from one active in the Underground Railroad may be recognized.
      • Cemeteries. Many times the only tangible connections to persons involved with the Underground Railroad are the cemeteries where they are buried. Sometimes cemeteries may be documented as locations where freedom seekers hid. In large cemeteries it may be best to single out the graves associated with Underground Railroad activists and freedom seekers, rather than nominate the entire cemetery.
      • Transportation routes. If a linear corridor or a crossing point of a river can be traced and a specific route that was followed can be identified and documented, it may be eligible. The flight from enslavement generally left no physical imprint on the landscape, and specific routes may be difficult to define. However, in some places these routes may be known. Transportation corridors such as roads or waterways are by their nature dynamic and may have often changed considerably since the time of the Underground Railroad. These routes, if they can be documented, and if they can be shown to follow the same corridor, can be considered for the Network to Freedom. Maps, both historic and current, are critical documentation to illustrate the routes. These sites can be nominated only if there is an owner to sign a letter of consent.
      • Military sites. Military-related sites are also noteworthy parts of the Underground Railroad story and can include sites of famous battles associated with the flight of the enslaved, contraband camps, or forts occupied by Federal forces that provided refuge to the enslaved. Prior to the Civil War, military service was one means by which enslaved people could attempt to gain their freedom. Consequently, military sites from all periods prior to 1865 should be evaluated for Underground Railroad associations.
      • Commemorative sites or monuments. Since the late nineteenth century, there have been efforts to commemorate the Underground Railroad with monuments, statues and markers. These efforts are often significant in their own right, and may be nominated to the Network to Freedom. To be considered for the Network, the commemorative object must be in a public space, visible and accessible to the public. Public buildings or facilities named in honor of a participant in the Underground Railroad, such as a Harriet Tubman School, are not eligible. It is necessary to explain why the commemorative site was chosen as appropriate by those erecting the monument.
      • Historic districts or neighborhoods. Often there will be sections of a town or a concentration in a rural area that were known for Underground Railroad activity. There may be several specific houses or buildings that can be documented as associated with the Underground Railroad and several others that date from the time period. Generally, these areas should be contiguous, distinguishable from surrounding properties and have a shared relationship with each other, showing membership in a community involved in the Underground Railroad. (Add appendix)
      • Archeological sites. A property associated with the Underground Railroad, where archeological survey or study has been undertaken and documented, may be eligible for its potential to provide important information on Underground Railroad activities.
      • Other sites. Properties related to the Underground Railroad in some other way may include, for example, resources associated with William Still and Wilbur Siebert, two early historians of the Underground Railroad. Or, a building that served as the headquarters of an abolitionist newspaper that was sympathetic to aiding freedom seekers might also be eligible.
    • These are just some of the possible associations that define Underground Railroad activity. The definitions are meant to be fluid to incorporate new investigations, interpretations, and commemoration activities around the country.
  • S4. Describe the site’s association and significance to the Underground Railroad. Provide citations for sources used throughout the text. Timelines are encouraged.
    • In Section S4 you are asked to write a narrative or essay, with citations, describing the site’s association with and significance to the Underground Railroad. Identify what type of activity occurred at the site, the period of significance to the Underground Railroad, dates of significant events, and the names of noteworthy people associated with the site. A supplemental chronology in chart or list form is often helpful to clarify the narrative. Maps showing the property in relation to other key locations such as waterways, roads, towns, other Underground Railroad sites, etc., are very useful.
    • Writing a narrative of site significance - Keep in mind the following general principles when preparing this narrative statement of significance:
      • There is no prescribed length for documenting the site. The narrative should be focused and thorough in describing the site’s significance and association with the Underground Railroad. The explanation of the property’s historical significance should be written for a general audience that may never have heard of the property before and is not be familiar with its story. Remember, the Network application is an opportunity to widely publicize the unique history of the site and add to the collective knowledge of the Underground Railroad.
      • Begin with an overview paragraph, simply and clearly stating how the site is associated with the Underground Railroad and describing the significance of that association. This paragraph must build on the summary. Using the summary paragraph as an outline, make the case for significance in subsequent paragraphs. Provide a brief chronological history of the events specifically related to the property, and then discuss the facts and circumstances in the property’s past that give it significance in Underground Railroad history.
      • Include brief descriptive, geographical, and historical information about the area where the property is located to help orient the reader to the property’s surroundings and the kind of community or place where it functioned in the past. Again, focus on facts that help explain the property’s role and illustrate its importance.
      • Since the reader may have limited knowledge of the property or the area where it is located, provide a map(s) showing the location of the site in relation to identifiable geographic features (nearby towns and rivers, for instance).
      • A supplemental chronology is often helpful to clarify the narrative and serve as a reference for the reader.
      • For districts or neighborhoods, provide a general boundary description and a list of what properties are included, noting whether they contribute to the Underground Railroad association of the area.
      • Be concise and selective about the facts. Consider whether they directly support the significance of the property. Avoid narrating the entire history of the property. Focus on the events and activities associated with the Underground Railroad that make the property historically significant.
      • Be specific in all references to history or geography. Give dates and proper names of places and people associated with the property, citing where this information was obtained.
      • Identify sources, with page numbers, as clearly as possible so that anyone reading the application may retrace the applicant’s research. In so doing, use a standard footnote or citation style such as that found in The Chicago Manual of Style, A Manual for Writers by Kate L.Turabian, the Modern Language Association style sheet, or an accepted style guide from a scholarly journal like American Antiquity. For example, see below [2] for a footnote reference using the Chicago Manual of Style format.
      • In addition to using notes to cite references, consider them for explanatory purposes—to identify individuals, explain relationships, discuss conflicting sources, and otherwise provide information supporting, but tangential to your main argument.
  • S5. Provide a history of the site since its time of significance to the Underground Railroad, including physical changes, changes in boundaries over time, archeological work, or changes in ownership or use.
    • Define the site by its boundaries. Explain how they may have changed over time. If the site is smaller than it was historically in the Underground Railroad period, describe how the formerly larger area is presented to the public at the site.
    • Provide a brief narrative of the use of the site since its time of association with significant events in Underground Railroad history.
    • Describe other, alternative, or previous names of the site. Identify the current name of the site, if different from the historical name.
    • For buildings, structures, objects, and designed landscapes, identify date of construction and describe how the site has changed over time to its current appearance and condition.
    • Describe in general terms what the historic uses of the site were and what the site is used for now.
    • Note if the , or surrounding area, has changed and what the site’s context is today in relation to its surroundings.
    • If an archeological site, describe any archeological surveys or excavations.
  • S6. Include a bibliography or list of citations for sources used throughout the document. Discuss the reliability of historical sources of information and discuss briefly how you used them.
    • Provide citations for all references and sources used to complete this application, especially for all sources mentioned in S4 and S5 (even if they have been previously noted in footnotes or endnotes).
    • Cite the sources as clearly as possible so that anyone reading the application may retrace the applicant’s research to the primary source.
    • Indicate in one or two sentences how confident you are in the accuracy of the source and why. Where and when did these sources obtain their information? Provide an assessment of the validity of sources used by following this basic guidance: is the source generally considered valid, or should it be used with caution and only when verified by other sources? This annotation is especially important for late nineteenth century or early 20th century regional histories.
    • Applicants are encouraged to make use of as wide a variety of sources as possible, including oral traditions. Primary sources such as newspaper accounts from the time period, journals, letters from the time period, first-hand accounts, census data, etc., are highly recommended if available.
    • See Appendix C for information regarding what is sufficient documentation. Generally speaking, more than one source should be used, and the information should be corroborative. In combination the sources used should be strong enough to support the claim for Underground Railroad association.
    • Do not include general reference works unless they provide specific information about the property or unless such works have assisted in evaluating the property’s significance.
    • Use information from the internet very cautiously. Internet sites by major university libraries, the Library of Congress or other organizations that include scanned primary documents are fairly reliable. Most other sites contain interpretations of information that should be analyzed like any other source. Include the date that the website was accessed in the citation or footnote.
    • Use a standard bibliographical style such as that found in The Chicago Manual of Style, A Manual for Writers by Kate L.Turabian, the Modern Language Association style sheet, or an accepted style guide from a scholarly journal such as American Antiquity.
    • Guidelines for Bibliographical References:
      • For all published materials (books, pamphlets, imprints, etc.), list the author, full title, location and date of publication, and publisher.
        • Example: Filler, Lewis. The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830-1860. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960.
      • For articles, list the name, volume, and date of the publication (journal, newspaper, or magazine).
        • Example: Fruehling, Byron D., and Smith, Robert H. “Subterranean Hideaways of the Underground Railroad in Ohio: An Architectural and Historical Critique of Local Tradition.” Ohio History, 102 (1993): 98-117
      • For unpublished papers (manuscripts, letters, diaries) cite the name of collection and repository. (Information about when a document was produced is very helpful, if it can be determined.)
        • Seibert, Wilbur papers. Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.
        • Hawley, A.T. Daily Account Book No. 2. In the possession of Jane Doe in Middletown, California.
      • For government documents cite the type of records and repository.
        • City and Federal census manuscripts on microfilm. Missouri Historical Society Archives. St. Louis, Missouri.
        • U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1860 Illinois and Madison County sections. Washington: Government Printing Office.
        • St. Louis Criminal and Circuit Court Records. Missouri State Archives Court Records Curation Project. St. Louis, Missouri.
      • For interviews, include the date of the interview, name of the interviewer, name and title (if any) of the person interviewed, and the location where the tapes, transcripts, and notes of the interview are stored.
        • Kennedy, Clementine. Interviewed by Charlotte Johnson. Alton, Illinois: May 1999. Audiocassette and notes in the collection of the Interviewer in Alton, Illinois.
  • S7. Describe current educational programs, tours, markers, signs, brochures, site bulletins, or plaques at the site. Include text and photographs of markers.
    • Describe current educational programs, tours, brochures, or markers at the site related to the history of the Underground Railroad. Include text and photo(s) of markers.
    • This section is crucial if the site is not on or eligible for the National Register for Historic Places. Visitors need to know the Underground Railroad association of what they are looking at and a modern intrusion such as a building, vacant lot, or parking lot cannot convey a sense of historical significance.
    • Many Underground Railroad sites are interpreted to the public through tours, brochures, or markers. While fully developed interpretive programs may also apply to the Network separately as a program, this question is aimed at determining what interpretation, if any, is available for the site.
    • If there is a brochure or site bulletin for the site, you are encouraged to enclose a copy with your application.
  • S8. Describe any local, State, or Federal historic designations, records, signage, or plaques at the site.
    • Such recognition may include designations by local historical commissions or historical societies, local zoning ordinances, or State historical designations. Federal recognition might include listing in the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark designation, or recordation by the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. Your Regional Manager may be able to supply this information or direct you to the appropriate contacts.
    • Please include photographs and text of signs and plaques.
  • S9a. If the site is open to the public, describe accessibility conditions under the Americans for Disability Act.
    • Public access to sites is not a requirement for inclusion in the Network. This is particularly true for such places as the interior of private buildings or sensitive archaeological sites. The applicant should identify the level of access to the site, and any restrictions. Accessibility may include hours of operation, entrance fees, parking, restroom facilities, etc.
    • Be sure to identify if the site is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. For an explanation of the act see http://www.ada.gov/
    • For information on making historic buildings accessible see the National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services Preservation Brief #32 at http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/briefs/brief32.htm
  • S10. Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the documentation, preservation, commemoration, or interpretation of the site.
    • By working with other partners, applicants demonstrate the level of local, regional, or State support for the efforts to help preserve, commemorate, or interpret Underground Railroad sites. The NPS strongly encourages resource stewardship through partnerships and cooperative endeavors. Identify any assistance the site may have received from the State Historic Preservation Officer, the National Park Service, or some other Federal, State, or local entity for the preservation or interpretation of the site. Note if the site has received assistance from a private foundation or perhaps corporate sponsorship. Identify contributions to the preservation, upkeep, or staffing of the site, from such groups as volunteers, educational facilities, scouts, etc.
  • S11. Additional data or comments. (optional) These brochures and excerpts from sources do not replace the required narrative.
    • Applicants may include additional information pertinent to the site’s inclusion in the Network — for example, site pamphlets or published articles about the site. These materials should supplement, rather than replace the narrative in S4.
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Facilities

This is a screen shot of the Network to Freedom Application specific to "Facilities"(full, accessible version available for download at top of the page). The page reveals a complex table with 1 field to be filled by the applicant. Fields described below.
Excerpt from Network to Freedom Application. Download the full application at the top of the web page.

NPS Photo/National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

Where to Start?

  • Before beginning to prepare the application form for a facility, you should have any information that has already been gathered about the facility:
    • its mission statement;
    • collection(s) policy(ies) and description(s) (including information on acquisition, conservation, lending, and photoduplication)
    • visitation (numbers, types of visitors, length of visit, etc.);
    • staffing (management, current size and type, needs, qualifications and training, accreditation);
    • publications, reports and outreach programs;
    • partnerships and funding;
    • finding aids;
    • examples of Underground Railroad collections.
  • Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Regional Manager (see Appendix A) before and during the application process. While Network staffers are not in a position to write applications, managers are prepared to provide technical assistance in the preparation and submission of applications. In particular, applicants may wish to discuss whether to apply under the facility or program category. For example, research centers or museums may apply for inclusion in the Network to Freedom as either a facility or a program. The application preparer should consult with the facility’s staff, as well as with the NPS regional manager to determine which element type is most appropriate. If the research center or museum is applying for inclusion both as a facility and on the basis of its programs, a separate application form must be filled out of each element type (i.e. one application for the facility and one application for each program).

Completing the form for Facilities

In addition to the responses to each question, applications must also include a letter of consent for inclusion in the Network to Freedom from the facility owner or manager.

Privacy Information: The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add a statement to your letter of consent indicating what information you are willing to share.

  • F1. Type:
    • Check the facility type that best describes the element. (If unsure, then check “Other” and describe.)
    • An archive is a repository for original documents from the past. Digital archives are eligible for inclusion in the Network.
    • A library is a repository having secondary sources and reference tools.
    • A research center is an institution that produces scholarly publications and reports, and otherwise disseminates its research on the Underground Railroad to the public. It may mentor or sponsor researchers.
  • F2. Provide a general description of the facility and its purpose or mission.
    • Provide the facility’s mission statement or primary purpose. Briefly describe the physical facility itself and the scope of services. Include a description of the facility’s over-all collection or collections if appropriate.
  • F3. Describe the holdings or collections and discuss their significance to the Underground Railroad.
    • Describe in an essay or narrative, the ways in which the facility’s collection or collections or mission are related to the history of the Underground Railroad. What can a visitor or researcher learn about the Underground Railroad from using the collection? What types of items in the collection can be used to research or understand the Underground Railroad and how? Explain how the collections or mission are significant to, or directly associated with the Underground Railroad. What percentage of the facility’s total holdings does these Underground Railroad related items represent? What percentage of the facility's research is related to the Underground Railroad? How is the Underground Railroad defined?
  • F4. List the Underground Railroad or slavery-related items or materials in the facility.
    • Provide an inventory or list of the specific Underground Railroad or slavery-related objects or materials that the facility has in its collection or collections. If the collections are archival, describe what items are related to Underground Railroad research. Use bullets and annotate types and runs of newspapers and journals, significant collections of family papers, and maps relevant for possible Underground Railroad routes and transportation. Objects or materials may include, but not be limited to:
      • Original historical artifacts
      • Reproductions of historical artifacts
      • Permanent exhibitions containing Underground Railroad materials
      • Original archival or manuscript collections (including original historical architectural or cartographic records, moving images, photographic collections or sound recording)
      • Reproductions of archival or manuscript materials
      • Rare books
      • Rare or out-of-print serials
      • Rotating Underground Railroad exhibits
  • F5. Describe the documents the facility has to verify the sources of its collections.
    • Describe the facility’s method of determining and recording the origin, source, authenticity, and ownership history (the provenance) of its collection or collections. Documents that establish provenance may include, but not be limited to:
      • Deeds of gift
      • Written historical provenance information, such as Authentic Histories of Creation, Ownership, and custody of items/collections
      • Attribution or appraisal documentation
      • Copyright ownership documentation
      • Research into collections by a scholar
    • Requirements for showing provenance are directed primarily to facilities that maintain collections of artifacts or unique rare documents or volumes. Facilities that maintain collections of books, copied documents, or replica materials, should describe general procedures they follow for acquisition. Applicant must identify if the facility has copyright authority over material in its collection(s).
  • F6. Describe the indexes or finding aids that are available for the facility’s collections.
    • In order to use an archives, museum collection, or research center, it is necessary to have an easy form of access to the inventory of objects, documents, and publications.
    • Describe the types of guides or indexes that are available for the facility’s collections. Finding aids and catalogs are standard minimum requirements for any collections facility. These may include, but not be limited to:
      • Online public access catalog
      • Other web-based access
      • Finding aids for archival collections
      • Published card catalog
      • Microfilm copies in the National Registry of Microfilm Masters
      • Encoded archival description finding aids on the web
      • Listing in National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections
      • Published exhibition catalogs
      • Museum catalog
  • F7. Describe the facility’s management and staff, and levels of training or certifications
    • Describe the facility’s management. Who runs the facility? How is it funded? Is it a non-profit organization? Is the staff comprised of volunteers, consultants, paid employees, university or other students? Who will provide assistance to visiting researchers?
    • What is the staff’s level of professional experience, education and training? Are they certified in any way, such as by the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Association of Archivists and Records Managers, the American Association of Museums, and any regional or local organizations? Is experience required for staff? And if so, what type of experience?
    • Does the facility have trained curators or archivists on staff or available as volunteers or for consultation? Does the facility have a trained reference staff? Is there on-going training for the staff?
    • Be sure to describe any professional organizational affiliations (such as a local, State or national association of museums, archives and libraries) to which the facility belongs or has been accredited by.
  • F8. Describe the types of publications, reports, or services the facility performs or produces.
    • List publications, reports, or services related to the Underground Railroad that the facility publishes, produces or performs. Does the facility host or sponsor interns or provide fellowships? Does it sponsor lectures on its research or post information on a web site?
    • For inclusion in the Network, research centers must show a record of on-going commitment to researching or providing information about the Underground Railroad. This may include such things as publication of a journal that includes Underground Railroad or slavery-related articles, or various types of reports on these related themes.
    • Facilities that are not applying for inclusion as research centers should answer this question with either a negative response or with a description of relevant activities, including any interpretive programs the facility offers.
  • F9. Describe the conditions of public use at the facility, including accessibility under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Describe what personal assistance visiting researchers receive.
    • Describe the conditions of public access to the facility. Facilities in the Network must be accessible to the public. They should be open on a scheduled basis or accessible by appointment. This question addresses not only public access but also the capacity of a facility to serve researchers.
    • Be sure to address the following issues. How many hours a week is the facility open to the public? Or, if access is by appointment only, approximately how many appointments can be accommodated in a month? Are any of the collection or research reports available online? Describe access use and policies and any special conditions of access such as fees or registration.
    • Are there any major preservation or stabilization issues with the Underground Railroad materials that might limit access? For example, do the collections include deteriorating nitrate film, leather bound rare books with red rot, or manuscripts with iron gall ink or brittle paper?
    • Is the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? For an explanation of the act see http://www.ada.gov/.
    • And finally, what assistance do visiting researchers receive and from whom? Is the person assisting knowledgeable about the collection and about finding aids?
  • F10. Describe visitation workload at the facility.
    • Describe visitation at the facility. This may include actual visits to the facility, inquiries via phone, fax, or email, copying requests, or research requests. Provide approximate numbers of visits or inquiries received in a week. How many of these visits are for Underground Railroad related purposes?
    • Provide an estimate of the facility's "capacity." Is it overwhelmed by demands on staff, seating, and collections? Are there preservation risks to the collection caused by demand for using documents?
  • F11. Describe the facility's traveling exhibit, interlibrary loan and photocopying or duplication policies and capabilities.
    • Does the facility design and maintain traveling exhibits available to other institutions on a regular basis? Under what terms and cost is this service available? Does the facility participate in (share information and materials through) a formal or informal interlibrary loan arrangement? How does one borrow information? What are the terms of the loan (including time limits, renewals, and costs)?
    • Indicate if the facility offers photocopying services, photographic reproductions of its collections, microfilming of documents, etc. Also, indicate the terms and costs for these services. Identify any restrictions the facility has in copying its materials. Include both copyright restrictions and limits on copying items such as rare books, large-format maps, etc.
  • F12. Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the operation of the facility.
    • By working with other groups as "partners," applicants demonstrate the level of local, regional, or State support for their efforts to help preserve, commemorate, or interpret the history of the Underground Railroad. Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the acquisition, cataloguing, conservation, interpretation and/or exhibition of the collection or collections associated with the Underground Railroad, or that have contributed to the maintenance and/or staffing of that portion of the facility, itself, related to the Underground Railroad.
    • Identify any financial assistance or cooperating organizations. This may include, but not be limited to, financial support received from local, State or Federal entities, corporate or foundation sponsorship, professional organizations or academic institutions, volunteer staffing, or cooperative management practices. (Refer to groups previously identified in item F7).
  • F13. Additional data or comments. (Optional)
    • Applicants may include any additional information they think is pertinent to the facility’s inclusion in the Network. This may include a discussion of the facility’s environmental controls, security, housekeeping, gift shops, education programs, etc.
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Programs

This is a screen shot of the Network to Freedom Application specific to "Programs"(full, accessible version available for download at top of the page). The page reveals a complex table with 1 field to be filled by the applicant. Fields described below.
Excerpt from Network to Freedom Application. Download the full application at the top of the webpage.

NPS Photo/National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

Where to Start?

Before beginning to prepare the application form for an educational or interpretive program, you should have any information that has already been gathered about the program.

  • Program frequency
  • Attendance
  • Underground Railroad themes conveyed
  • Sources of historical documentation on which the program is based
  • Program learning objectives (e.g., What do you want those who attend or participate actually to learn?)
  • Program planning and consultation with stakeholders from all appropriate audiences
  • Means of evaluation
  • Letters of support.

Interpretation is a form of education that seeks to facilitate a connection between the interestsof the visitor and history of the resource, event or person. It seeks to make connections between historic places and history, between the lives we live today and the lives of the past. Effective interpretation requires thought and study. Whether decisions are made in an office, a boardroom or around a kitchen table, it is important to take the time to ask a few questions and record the answers. Consider the nature of the story you have to tell and the audience or audiences you hope to serve. Interpretive planning leads to effective programming. Effective educational programs require close collaboration with the local community, educators and local school systems, universities or continuing education programs. Again, consider the nature of the story and your audience. Have there been trial runs of the program? Is there a system for soliciting feedback from scholars, educators, children and adult audiences? Is there a process for incorporating the results of this feedback into improving the program? Are there pre-and post-program follow-through? Does the program relate to existing school curricula?

Completing the form for Programs

In addition to the responses to each question, applications must also include the following attachments:

  • A letter of consent for inclusion in the Network to Freedom from the owner or manager of the program.
    • Privacy Information: The Network to Freedom was established, in part, to facilitate sharing of information among those interested in the Underground Railroad. Putting people in contact with others who are researching related topics, historic events, or individuals or who may have technical expertise or resources to assist with projects is one of the most effective means of advancing Underground Railroad commemoration and preservation. Privacy laws designed to protect individual contact information (i.e., home or personal addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses), may prevent NPS from making these connections. If you are willing to be contacted by others working on Underground Railroad activities and to receive mailings about Underground Railroad-related events, please add a statement to your letter of consent indicating what information you are willing to share.
  • Letters from scholars, grassroots organizations, school systems, or community groups consulted in the development of an educational or interpretive program describing their contributions to the process.
  • An example of an audience feedback card or questionnaire, or other audience feedback mechanism. Samples of completed evaluations or letters assessing the effectiveness of the program.
  • A video of the program or a sample of the program for evaluation purposes.
    • Particularly for performances, living history, and tours, video excerpts will help reviewers understand and evaluate the program.
    • The National Park Service retains all of the material submitted in the application process. When accepted, these materials become available for public viewing. Therefore, do NOT send videos that you do not wish the public to have access to. If you have any questions, please contact your regional manager.
  • P1. Type:
    • Check the program type that best describes the element. Books, plays, artworks, websites, and similar items are not eligible by themselves. (If unsure of the program type, then check “Other” and describe.)
      • A public program uses "personal" or "non-personal" techniques to help tell the story of an historic place, event or person. Personal techniques include talks, guided walks, and tours and non-personal include worldwide web, travelling exhibits, traveling trunks and videos.
      • Curriculum-based educational programs are geared toward K-12 or university. Examples include curriculum-based field studies, workshops, seminars, lectures, and discussions.
      • Youth programs are geared toward children and young adults and could include Girls and Boys Clubs or Scouts.
      • A website refers to an online exhibit or interactive program.
      • A tour is a guided presentation of a series of sites, a landscape, or the interior of an historic house. Tours can be self-guided (a brochure, podcast) or led by an interpreter; they can be vehicle-based or walking.
      • A performance is a musical, dramatic, or similar public presentation.
      • A living history program is presented by interpreters, often in period clothing and keeping to historically accurate modes of thought, who enliven the story they are telling with demonstrations of activities. Interpreters seek to bring the past to life before the audience’s eyes.
      • An exhibit is a display of objects, images, and written information about a place, event or theme that provokes visitors’ understanding and appreciation.
  • P1a. Describe the program.
    • It is necessary to explain what is being nominated and why it is relevant to the Underground Railroad. Conveying information about the Underground Railroad should be a primary goal of the program. Start with its relationship to the Underground Railroad. Then describe the content of the program and how, by whom, and where it is presented. Explain in detail whether the program is presented as living history, a curriculum, a talk, a play, a tour, etc. Is there an audiovisual component? Describe the desired experience. When an audience views or participates in the program, what will they see or experience? Also explain how the audience participates in the program. Is it interactive? Does it involve walking or touring sites? Does it use objects such as dolls, clothing, historic documents, weapons, shackles, or other artifacts? What senses does it appeal to? Remember, some of those reading your application have never been involved with the program.
  • P2. What is the Underground Railroad message of the program, and how is it presented?
    • Explain the themes of the program. What main ideas about the Underground Railroad do you want visitors to take away with them? Summarize in a sentence or two what you want the participant to understand. Also explain how this message is distinctive from other Underground Railroad programs.
    • Be sure to describe what methods, objects, or sites are used to convey the Underground Railroad themes. How are the ideas presented? For example, is the program interactive, or does the presenter use props? Do not worry about repeating part of P1.
  • P3. Describe what advice you sought in developing your program.
    • Consultation is a critical stage in the development of any interpretation program. Be sure to identify partners such as local, grass-roots organizations or scholars that were consulted, the consultation process, and the outcomes of consultation. Describe the content of the consultation, the type of input that you sought, and the advice or suggestions provided.
      • For example, with education programs, identify schools or other entities consulted. Describe how the program’s content fits with educational standards established at the local, State, or national levels.
    • Consulting with local residents to discuss potential impacts of new tours or programs on the area is a critical component of planning a tour or program. It is important to include the perspectives of various local groups on Underground Railroad events.
    • Provide documentation of consultation, such as letters, from people or organizations consulted.
  • P4. Identify sources of historical information and describe how they were used to develop the program. Include a bibliography.
    • Please provide a narrative of the Underground Railroad history from which the program was developed. What is the history of the event, individual or site that the program describes? An explanation of the program's historical significance can be direct and to the point as long as it provides a perspective from which to evaluate the program’s relative importance. The explanation of the historical significance should be written for a general audience that may never have heard of the event, individual or site before.
    • Programs need to demonstrate a commitment to historical accuracy in their interpretation of Underground Railroad activity. Provide a bibliography of sources consulted in the development of the program, and describe how you used each source in developing your program. To identify primary documents, cite the sources as clearly as possible so that anybody reading the application can go directly to the original document. Applicants are encouraged to make use of as wide a variety of sources as possible, including oral histories and folklore. The bibliography generally should include more than one source and the sources should be corroborative.
    • While children’s books can be very helpful, particularly in developing programs for children, they should not be the only type of sources consulted.
    • Provide an assessment of the validity of sources used by following this basic guidance: is the source generally considered valid, or should it be used with caution and only when verified by other sources?
    • Do not include general reference works unless they provide specific information used in the program. If the program highlights local events, sites, or people, use sources with information specific to the area, such as newspapers, letters, local tax or census records, etc.
    • Use a standard bibliographical style such as that found in A Manual of Style or A Manual for Writers by Kate L. Turabian, both published by the University of Chicago Press. (See instructions for S7 for examples of bibliographic formats.)
  • P5. Describe the educational objectives of the program, tour or performance.
    • Describe in detail exactly what you intend for the audience to learn from the program. Break it down into declarative phrases for each objective of the program. Using bullets, separate out what the program is striving to attain—the goals for what you want the audience to learn. List the educational objectives of the program, tour or performance. Spell out the desirable interpretive outcomes one by one. What will the audience take away intellectually? If applying for a curriculum, use the content objectives for youth or students. For example: "By the end of the tour the child will be able to define the Underground Railroad, list five means of escape, and use a map to follow routes often used by local freedom seekers."
  • P6. For whom is the program intended? Is the program fully accessible to all?
    • Describe who comprises the target audience you intend to reach. Identify such characteristics as age groups, facility with English, types of groups (civic, family, etc) and level of familiarity with the Underground Railroad.
    • Does the program require athletic ability, mobility, vision, and/or hearing? Is it accessible to all?
    • Does the program key into school requirements for State or local history at a certain grade level or for scout badges?
  • P7. Describe where the program has been presented.
    • As specifically as possible, describe where the program has occurred or now occurs. Identify plans to expand the geographical area of activity.
    • Does the presenter travel to the audience or does the audience visit a specific site?
    • Tours should identify where the tour goes and the beginning and ending points. Remember that tours must show proof of consultation with owners or managers of sites or programs included in tours.
  • P8. Describe how the program is evaluated and how you use the results to improve the program.
    • How is the program’s success and quality evaluated? Is there evidence that the audience is learning the desired information from the program? Note how often evaluation occurs, in what manner, and by whom.
    • Be sure to identify techniques used for audience feedback. Audience feedback can provide information used to improve a program. Do you incorporate audience reaction into program improvement?
    • Include an example of the mechanism chosen for evaluation and for determining audience feedback. This might include an audience questionnaire or feedback card.
  • P9. How long has the program existed and what are the future plans for the program.
    • Programs included in the Network must be operational and have a track record of interpreting the Underground Railroad. At a minimum, they must have occurred at least once in the past, and have a schedule for future activities. How long have you been presenting or operating this program? What are future plans for program presentation or operation? Past commitment to interpreting the Underground Railroad may also be demonstrated through the program’s products. In this case, describe any publications, audio-visual presentations, multimedia programs, or special curricula produced by the program and designed specifically for instruction and public presentation on the Underground Railroad.
    • For exhibits, how long have they been open to the public? Describe future plans for showings, travel plans, etc.
  • P10. Describe program’s management and staff, and levels of training or certifications.
    • Who runs the program? Is it a non-profit organization? Is the staff comprised of volunteers, paid employees, university or other students? How many people are involved in the program?
    • Is there a training program for staff? Is experience required for staff? And if so, what kind?
    • Be sure to describe any staff society or association affiliations or certification, such as by a local association of tour guides or the National Association of Interpreters.
  • P11. Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the program.
    • By working with other partners, applicants demonstrate the level of local, regional, or State support for the efforts to help preserve, commemorate, or interpret Underground Railroad sites. Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the preservation, commemoration, or interpretation of the site. For example, identify if the element has received assistance from the State Historic Preservation Officer, the National Park Service, or some other Federal, State or local entity for the program. Note if the program has received assistance from a private foundation or perhaps corporate sponsorship. Identify contributions from such groups as volunteers, educational facilities, scouts, etc.
    • Refer to groups that were consulted in the development of the program if they were identified in item P3. Identify any financial assistance or cooperating organizations. This may include, but not be limited to, financial support received from local, Federal or State entities, corporate or foundation sponsorship, volunteer staffing, or cooperative management practices.
  • P12. Additional data or comments. (optional) Living history and performance programs are strongly encouraged to submit a video of the presentation described in the application. Videos will assist the reviewers in understanding and evaluating the program to determine historical accuracy. Applicants may include additional information pertinent to the program’s inclusion in the Network—for example, tour brochures or pre/post visit materials.
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III. Putting it all Together

Complete an application form following the instructions in this manual. Use a computer to complete the form; handwritten forms will not be accepted. Your Regional Manager can send you a template in Word format.

The application itself should be self-explanatory without having to look through attachments. Do not assume that readers are familiar with your site, facility, or program.

Use page numbers and a header with the name of the element applying.

Use a narrative or essay form. Avoid “See attached.” The narrative may be as expansive as needed to develop the case, but the essays should be integrated within the space designated under each question on the application, not added at the end of the document.

Mail or send digitally the completed application form, with photographs, owner consent letters, and other supporting material to the NPS Underground Railroad Regional Manager who represents your region.

Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Regional Manager before and during the application process to discuss their application and the site, facility or program that they are proposing for inclusion (see Appendix A). Applicants are encouraged to submit electronic draft versions to their Regional Manager for review and comment prior to the deadlines.

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Attachments

Photographs

For sites, applicants should submit current original photographs (either black and white orcolor) which illustrate the significant features of the nominated building, site, structure, landscape feature, etc. Due to copyright considerations, photographs should not be taken from the internet. The date that the photograph was taken and the photographer should be identified.

By submitting a photograph to the National Park Service with the Underground Network to Freedom application form, photographers grant permission to the National Park Service to use the photograph for publication and other purposes, including duplication, display, distribution, study, publicity and audio-visual presentations. Photographic credits will be given when photos are used for these purposes.

While not required for programs and facilities, photographs that illustrate exhibits, collections, students participating in educational programs or similar aspects of the nominated element are useful for evaluation purposes.

Photographs must be unmounted (do not affix photographs to forms by staples, clips, glue, or any other material), at least 3 ½ by 5 inches (but 4 by 6 inches is preferred), and labeled in pencil or permanent audio-visual marking pen on the back of the photo. Digital photographs are acceptable if they are at least 300 dpi resolution.

Include the name of the property, the location (including State), name of the photographer, date of the photograph and description of view, indicating direction of camera.

Copies of historic photographs are encouraged, if available.

Maps

Maps are particularly helpful in supporting the narrative. Maps can illustrate a site’s relationship to rivers, roads, other Underground Railroad sites and towns. They can help readers who may not know the small towns, counties or geography of the State understand in what part of the State a site is located. Copies of historic maps are encouraged, when available.

The following guidelines are offered to assist you in preparing maps for submission.

  • Plat books, insurance maps, bird’s eye views, highway maps, and hand drawn maps may be used. They do not need to be drawn to a precise scale, but should illustrate approximate relationships between features.
  • Large maps should be folded so that they can fit in a letter sized file.
  • Include details such as names of streets, highway numbers, other buildings, natural features and an arrow indicating north.
  • Use coding, crosshatching, numbering or other graphic techniques to indicate information. Avoid using color (unless scanned) as maps may be photocopied.
  • Indicate where the area illustrated on the map fits in relation to other commonly known places such as larger cities or towns or State boundaries. Sections of a map that are out of context are much less useful.

Videos

Videos are encouraged for program submissions because they assist the reviewers in visualizing presentations. As with other attachments, however, they are not a substitute for a narrative description of the program.

Videos should be submitted in a DVD format. They do not need to be professionally produced, but they should be clear enough to see and hear the presentation. Submit copies of videos rather than the originals. Be advised that as an attachment to an application, videos will become part of the official file available to the public upon acceptance into the Network to Freedom.

Documents, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and other items

Information in support of an application’s eligibility for the Network to Freedom should be synthesized and incorporated into the narrative. Do not rely on copies of chapters of county histories, newspaper articles, or other documents to demonstrate the Underground Railroad association of your site, program or facility.

There is no need to include copies of books, newspaper articles, or other items that are available from public libraries or archives. Include a citation for the source in the bibliography; it is helpful to indicate where a copy of the period book or newspaper may be located.

If an important document or source is not readily available to the public, then DO include a copy with the application.

Applications may be photocopied or scanned, so avoid including copies of articles from microfilm that are difficult to read even before they are copied. If you submit a copy of an article or document that is illegible, please provide a transcript of the most pertinent parts.

Avoid submitting oversized documents or pamphlets unless they are critical to support the application.

Provide a numbered list of all attachments and clearly identify the attachments by number.

Packaging and mailing the application

Applications and supporting documentation may be sent electronically. Contact your Regional Manager for coordinating submission of files too large to send as electronic mail attachments.

For archival and research purposes, please do not staple applications or place applications in binders, folders, notebooks, or page protectors.

  • Note: Copies of the applications may be made during the review process, and all binders, page protectors, and staples must be removed.

All application packages, including any supporting material, become part of the official archival records and must be submitted in hard copy to the appropriate Regional Manager. (See Appendix A) Material sent by regular mail must be postmarked on or before the application deadline to be considered for that review round. In order to facilitate the review process, applicants are encouraged to also submit a copy of the application electronically.

Approved applications and all supporting material will become the property of the National Park Service and will not be returned to the applicant. This material becomes part of the public domain and is accessible to the public.

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IV. Process

What is the NPS application review process?

New applications will be reviewed every 6 months. The deadlines for receiving applications are January 15 and July 15. Applications must be postmarked no later than the deadline date to be eligible for review in that round. Applications postmarked after the deadline will be included in the next round of review. There are no exceptions.

Within 30 days after the submission deadline, Regional Managers will review the applications to determine if they include all the required materials. The Regional Manager may contact the applicant before the deadline date or shortly afterwards for clarification or amplification of unclear points in the application. If the application is incomplete or requires major revisions, it will be deferred to a later round, and the Regional Manager will provide suggestions to the applicant on ways to strengthen the application. Revised applications can be resubmitted for consideration in the next round of review six months later.

Notices of applications under consideration will appear on the website. The notice will include the element’s title, State, and nomination type and will be on public review for 30 days. The public is encouraged to provide input during the application and review process. From the website, readers may e-mail their comments directly to the Regional Manager.

The review committee comprised on NTF staff reviews and votes on new applications approximately 60 days after the submission deadline to determine which ones are accepted for inclusion in the Network. . Due to limited resources, these reviews are no longer held in person. The Regional Manager will present an application to the committee which will vote on whether or not to recommend inclusion.

Committee-approved applications will be included in the Network, and NPS will then notify the applicant.

Upon listing in the Network to Freedom, the applicant will receive permission to use the Network to Freedom logo and guidelines for its use.

Applicants will be notified if the application is not approved. The Regional Manager will provide suggestions on ways to strengthen the application. Applicants are encouraged to resubmit revised applications.

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When is Network listing status re-evaluated?

Network status for sites is indefinite, as long as the property owner supports inclusion and the site is marked with a contextual statement. For facilities and programs, Network status may be reviewed periodically. Network listing status can be renewed indefinitely as long as the program or facility continues to meet Network criteria.

Elements may be withdrawn from the Network if there is evidence that the site, facility, or program no longer meets the criteria for inclusion, or if the National Park Service receives numerous complaints about the applicant’s activities. Other causes for withdrawing an element may be if the program is discontinued, the facility is closed, the site is destroyed, the applicant is found to have misrepresented itself, if inaccuracies are found in the application, network criteria are violated, or there is evidence of unethical or offensive activities.

Historic sites and properties included in the Network are not bound by any legal requirements to comply with Federal historic preservation laws, based on their inclusion in the Network alone. Nonetheless, if a property owner is found to be engaging in activities that may cause damaging impacts to the site inconsistent with approved preservation practices and contrary to the spirit of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act, then Network inclusion could be reviewed and possibly withdrawn.

The Regional Manager will review updated submissions and bring changes of status submissions to the notice of the Regional Manager committee, which can vote for recommending removal. Property owners or program or facility managers will be notified by the National Park Service of removal from the Network.

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Appendix A: Regional Program Managers, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, National Park Service

Applicants from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia, Washington D.C. and the surrounding metropolitan area should direct all inquiries and completed applications to:

Ka'mal McClarin, PhD
Region 1 Program Manager
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, D.C. 20242
Phone: (202) 430 - 8489
kamal_mcclarin@nps.gov

Applicants from Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands should direct all inquiries and competed applications to:

Sheri Jackson
Southeast Regional Program Manager
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
National Park Service
Atlanta Federal Center, 1924 Building
100 Alabama St., SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 507 - 5635
sheri_jackson@nps.gov

Applicants from Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota should direct all inquiries and completed applications to:

Deanda Johnson
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
National Park Service
601 Riverfront Drive
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
Phone: (402) 661 - 1590
deanda_johnson@nps.gov

Applicants from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. The Pacific West Region includes California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, and U.S. Territories in the Pacific Ocean should direct all inquiries and completed applications to:

Diane Miller
National Program Manager
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
National Park Service
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road
Church Creek, Maryland 21622
Phone: (443) 477 - 4476
diane_miller@nps.gov

Inquiries concerning sites, facilities, or programs outside the territorial limits of the U.S. should be directed to the National Program Manager:

Diane Miller
National Program Manager
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
National Park Service
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
4068 Golden Hill Road
Church Creek, Maryland 21622
Phone: (443) 477 - 4476
diane_miller@nps.gov

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Appendix B: Where To Find Help Documenting Sites And Reconstructing The Stories Of The Underground Railroad Movement

Applicants should familiarize themselves with the information available from the following web sites. For applicants without access to the internet, most of these publications are available upon request from the NTF Regional Manager.

http://www.nps.gov/ugrr

  • National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. This web site explains the Network to Freedom, and the National Park Service's mission in commemorating the Underground Railroad.

http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/briefs/brief32.htm

  • Exploring a Common Past: Researching and Interpreting the Underground Railroad. Produced by the History Office of the National Park Service, this publication provides a historic context for the Underground Railroad, information on using primary sources, a case study that tracks an escape from Virginia to Canada, and an extensive bibliography.

http://www.nps.gov/history/nhl/Themes/UNGRR.FINAL.pdf

  • Underground Railroad Resources in the United States Theme Study. This theme study was prepared by the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Survey program. It includes a history of the Underground Railroad, identifies historic property types, establishes registration requirements for National Register listing and NHL designation and includes an annotated bibliography.
  • Additional assistance may be obtained from publications by the National Register of Historic Places that address listing a property. Of particular importance are the following National Register Bulletins:
    • How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation
    • How to Complete the National Register Registration Form
    • Researching a Historic Property

While applications to the Network to Freedom are separate and distinct from nominations to National Register of Historic Places, and vice versa, these National Register Bulletins are indispensable handbooks for the documentation and verification of historic properties using standard professional methods of historical research. These bulletins are available on the National Register’s Web site at: http://www.nps.gov/nr/or by writing:

National Park Service National Register of Historic Places
1201 “I” (Eye) Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Reconstructing the Stories of the Underground Railroad Movement

Despite the difficulty in uncovering the facts concerning the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad movement, researchers must resist the temptation to compromise the verification process. The following outline summarizes various ways, including the use of oral accounts, through which much of the story of the Underground Railroad can be substantiated. Additionally, the outline provides guidelines for synthesizing evidence from oral sources that are often ignored and written sources that are often accepted without question.

Written Sources

Strong Evidence

  • Primary Evidence Examples
    • Original official records and sworn affidavits based on eyewitness accounts.
    • Diaries, journals and autobiographies.
    • Authenticated narrative accounts by eyewitnesses to the event (oral histories).
  • Factors impacting the reliability of primary evidence.
    • Credibility of informant (reputation for honesty, probable bias or ulteriormotives, mental capacity).
    • Time elapsed before the data was recorded.
  • Secondary Evidence Examples
    • Reminiscences that are written at a point in the informant’s life when his/her ability to remember details may be impaired.
    • Uncertified copies of official records and transcripts of testimony.
    • Accounts derived from interviews with eyewitnesses to the event (such as a period newspaper article).
    • Documented biographies and local histories.
  • Factors impacting the reliability of secondary evidence:
    • The credibility of informant
    • The conditions under which copied documents were reproduced.
    • The proportion of direct quotes contained in data gathered throughinterviews.
  • Direct/Indirect Evidence
    • Evidence derived from a primary or secondary source will carry more weight when it is direct (complete and presented in a clear unambiguous manner). Indirect evidence is inconclusive due to the manner in which the evidence is presented or the absence of an important detail. For example, the following two statements provide no specific direct evidence that John Doe was an Underground Railroad conductor until they are used in combination.
      • John Doe’s home at 645 Main Street was used as an Underground Railroad site.
      • An Underground Railroad conductor operated a station out of his home at 645 Main Street.
    • Circumstantial Evidence
      • Evidence that establishes a connection between the people, places and events that are being researched and people, places and events known to be connected to the Underground Railroad story.

Weak Evidence

  • Evidence that would be considered strong evidence were it not for the informant’s lack of credibility.
  • Evidence that would be considered strong evidence were it not for the fact that it was recorded long after the time of the referenced event.
  • Evidence from accounts that cannot be attributed to a particular informant (hearsay).
  • Contradictory Evidence
    • If only a single piece of reliable evidence contradicts established presumptions, a researcher must be prepared to question all supportive evidence no matter how reliable it may otherwise seem.

Local Oral Traditions

Underground Railroad research requires careful evaluation and analysis of the family and community stories that have been passed down by word of mouth. Oral traditions are often sources of indirect rather than direct evidence.

Strong Evidence

  • Primary Oral Traditions
    • Oral histories first told by credible informants near the time of the referenced event.
  • Secondary Oral Traditions
    • Reminiscences that were first told by an eyewitness who may no longer possess a clear memory for details.
    • Second-hand accounts that were first repeated by an investigator or associates of an eyewitness soon after the referenced event.

Weak Evidence

  • Oral traditions that are unsupported by any documentation or a preponderance of circumstantial evidence.
  • Underground Railroad lore that does not meet the oral tradition criteria listed below.

What Constitutes Sufficient Underground Railroad Verification?

Sufficient

  • A written source of direct primary evidence that is not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • At least two written sources of indirect primary evidence that corroborate each other and are not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • A local oral tradition supported by a written source of direct primary evidence that is not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • A local oral tradition supported by at least two written sources of indirect primary evidence that corroborate each other and are not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • At least two written sources of secondary evidence that corroborate each other and are not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • A preponderance of circumstantial or weak evidence that is not contradicted by other strong evidence.
  • Oral Traditions are those local oral accounts that meet the following criteria:
    • The oral account has survived the death of its originator by at least one generation.
    • The surviving oral account is widely known in at least one group closely associated with the originator.
    • The oral account survives primarily through vertical transmission from one generation to the next, rather than horizontal transmission among contemporaries.
    • The surviving oral account has preserved its integrity as evidenced by its accuracy, completeness, and retention of the originator’s values.
    • The details of the surviving oral account are believed by its contemporary carriers to be accurate.

Insufficient

  • Underground Railroad lore.
  • Uncorroborated weak evidence.
  • Uncorroborated circumstantial evidence.
  • Uncorroborated oral traditions.
  • Evidence contradicted by equally strong evidence.

Why Are Interpretive Guidelines For The Underground Railroad Just As Important As Verification Guidelines?

The current effort to verify Underground Railroad accounts will have little value if, when presenting the findings, the following conditions are not met:

  • Verified Underground Railroad accounts are placed in their proper historical, geographical and social context.
  • A clear disclaimer is provided when artistic license or unsubstantiated claims impact the presentation of a verifiable story of the Underground Railroad.
  • Note the following examples:
    • While talking about punishments for an Underground Railroad conductor operating during the first half of the 19th Century, an interpreter should be careful to make a distinction with the well known, harsher penalties imposed by the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.
    • While it is true that most fugitives fled to the North, interpreters should not generalize by suggesting that all whites encountered by freedom seekers in the South were hostile while all those encountered in the North were friendly
    • While the fact that a site was used as an Underground Railroad safe house is verifiable, the interpreter should avoid embellishing the story by making unsubstantiated claims about features of the house such as trap doors, cellars or crawl spaces.
    • While the fact that an individual was an Underground Railroad agent is verifiable, interpreters should not make an unsubstantiated claim that his or her home was used as a safe house.
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Appendix C: Becoming A Network Partner

What is a Network Partner?

Partnerships between and among the National Park Service and local, grass-roots organizations that have as their goal the preservation, commemoration and interpretation of Underground Railroad-related sites and stories are the foundation of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Everything that the program has become, just like the historic Underground Railroad itself, emerged out of local efforts across the United States.

One of the principal components of the Network to Freedom Program is to validate the efforts of these local and regional organizations, and to make it easier for them to share expertise and communicate with the National Park Service and each other. The vehicle through which this can happen is for these local entities to become Network Partners.

Partners of the Network to Freedom Program work alongside, and often in cooperation with, the National Park Service to fulfil the program’s mission. They are closely involved in the entire process of preserving resources, commemorating and educating the public about the Underground Railroad. Many partners have worked cooperatively with the National Park Service either in formal or informal roles to accomplish these activities. Most importantly, it is often through the dedicated efforts of Network Partners that elements are added to the Network to Freedom.

There is no minimum or maximum limit to a Network Partner’s activities. They can range from a small one-person organization that works tirelessly to teach schoolchildren about Underground Railroad-related resources in one town, to an agency such as a State Historic Preservation Office, which runs multi-faceted programs consistent with the National Park Service’s mission. No effort is too small or too large. Each effort is integral to the success of the Network to Freedom Program and the collective effort nationwide to enhance our understanding of the significance of the Underground Railroad.

The Network to Freedom and Network Partners are two closely interrelated parts of the Network to Freedom Program. Network Partners form part of a database that exists alongside that of the Network to Freedom, and often can be cross-referenced with the Network elements. In fact, in certain cases, Network Partners could even be elements of the Network to Freedom, if they have met the Network’s established criteria. More commonly, Network Partners are the entities that work to get elements in the Network to Freedom. There is an important distinction between the two parts of the Network to Freedom Program.

Network Partners are NOT authorized to use the Network to Freedom logo. That use is a characteristic of elements included in the Network to Freedom. Nonetheless, Network Partners are integral components of the entire program. In addition to their usual activities, Network Partners are often available for consultation in their areas of expertise, or on general issues of the Underground Railroad and the Network to Freedom Program. They are also listed on the Network to Freedom website and included in Network directories that NPS may publish from time to time.

How do I become a Network Partner?

Becoming a Network Partner is easy. The only requirements are that the partner have some association to preserving, commemorating or educating the public about the Underground Railroad, and that the partner’s actions are consistent with the spirit of the missions and practices of the Network to Freedom Program and the National Park Service.

If you or your organization would like to become a Network Partner, first contact the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Regional manager for your State. He or she will make sure that you have the most recent literature on the Network to Freedom Program and that you are on the Network to Freedom mailing list. Please submit a letter with the following information:

  • the name and address of the agency, company or organization;
  • the name, address, and phone, fax, and e-mail information of principal contact;
  • an abstract not to exceed 200 words describing the partner’s activity, or mission statement; and
  • a brief description of the entity’s association to the Underground Railroad.

Basically, that’s all there is to it! Your information will be added to the Network to Freedom Program database and you will receive notification from the National Park Service acknowledging you as a partner in the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.

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Appendix D: Sample Letter of Owner Consent

To be listed in the Network to Freedom, a letter of consent is required from the owner, manager, or someone authorized to act on their behalf. The letter must include a direct statement consenting to inclusion in the Network such as appears below.

[Date]

[address to Regional Manager]

As the owner/manager of the [site, facility or program name], I consent to its inclusion in the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

I consent to share my mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address with others engaged in Underground Railroad commemoration for purposes such as receiving newsletters or informational mailings, announcements of events, or research queries.

Sincerely,

[name and address]
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Appendix E: Overview and Tips for Applying to the Network to Freedom

  • Each site, program, and facility should be nominated separately to the Network to Freedom. Only fill out the questions related to the type of nomination that you are completing. The other questions can be deleted from the document that you submit.
  • For all applications, follow the directions for “cover page.”
  • For sites, follow the directions for "Sites."
  • For facilities, follow the directions for "Facilities."
  • For programs, follow the directions for "Programs."
  • Many potential applicants have multiple elements for which they could apply, such as a facility with interpretive programming, or a site with archival records associated with the historic figures. We recommend beginning with an application for the strongest (and easiest) element. Your Regional Manager can consult on where to start.
  • All applicants are STRONGLY encouraged to consult with their Regional Manager prior to beginning work on a nomination. The Regional Manager can discuss the site, program, or facility, help determine the best category under which to prepare the nomination, provide suggestions on making the strongest case for inclusion in the Network, and review draft applications prior to formal submission.
  • Submit your application early, if possible. This gives time for the Regional Manager to review the application and suggest revisions if appropriate.
  • Assume that those who read the application will not know anything about your particular Underground Railroad site, facility, or program. Applications will be reviewed by NPS staff from across the country that may not be familiar with local figures and events. Moreover, once applications are accepted, they become available to the public and anyone interested in learning more about the Underground Railroad. This is your chance to share information about what makes your site, program, or facility special and unique.
  • Give your application to someone else to read/proofread before submitting it. It is often advisable to have someone NOT connected with the project read over the application. If they are left with questions about the nomination, then it may be too brief or too vague.
  • Don’t submit your proposal in a three-ring binder or a plastic folder cover, spiral boundwith a wire or plastic comb, with section dividers between parts, or with the pages inserted in plastic sleeves. Avoid submitting oversized attachments, color-coded maps, brochures, or difficult to read copies of documents. The application and supporting material will be scanned and sent to the review committee, and these items are sometimes not possible to copy. Critical information may therefore be overlooked during the review process.
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End Notes

[1] A primary source is one that derives from participants, direct witnesses, or first recorders of events. Ideally, the source will have been created close to the time of the event it describes. Reminiscences that were recorded decades after an event took place are often less accurate than journals that were written contemporaneously.
[2] Lewis Filler, The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830-1860 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 25.
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Last updated: September 21, 2020