The special category of "partner" was created for individuals and organizations who are aligned with the Network to Freedom goals, but may not meet the criteria of a site, program or facility. 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 Services.
To become a partner, submit a letter to the regional program manager for your state 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 the 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.
The presence of a tunnel, secret room or other hiding place is not conclusive evidence of the Underground Railroad. Many nineteenth century buildings had spaces that were constructed as storage places, cisterns, air shafts or other commonplace features of the time. These spaces could also have been used for concealing a freedom seekers, but additional evidence supporting the Underground Railroad connection must be found. The most productive way to investigate a suspected connection to the Underground Railroad is to determine who lived in the house before 1865. What can you learn about them? Did they belong to anti-slavery groups or religious denominations that were active in the Underground Railroad? Who were they related to? Often Underground Railroad activity was carried out by networks of people connected through faith or family. This sort of additional information could support recognition as an Underground Railroad site. Your Network to Freedom regional coordinator can advise you on how to search your site.
For an analysis of Underground Railroad hiding places, see "Subterranean Hideaways of the Underground Railroad in Ohio: An Architectural, Archaeological and Historical Critique of Local Traditions," by Byron D. Fruehling and Robert H. Smith.
The NPS supports projects that achieve the goals of preservation, interpretation, and education of Underground Railroad history. Specifically, the projects should support or enhance the Underground Railroad associations for which site, program, or facility was listed in the NTF. Examples of projects that support these objectives include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Markers or signs identifying the site as being in the NTF
- Interpretive markers, brochures, exhibits, websites;
- Historical research in support of interpretation or publications;
- Oral history and documenting oral traditions;
- Educational curricula and lesson plans;
- Cultural Resource surveys;
- Archeological surveys;
- Preservation and restoration of historic buildings, structures, landscapes;
- Projects to enhance accessibility of sites and programs (including installation of ramps or lifts)
- National Register documentation and nominations;
- Workshops and public educational programs;
- Technical assistance in associated site and/or landscape identification; and
- Preservation and stabilization of cultural artifacts, collections, and documents.
A committee of reviewers, including NPS Network to Freedom regional program managers, other NPS staff, and non-NPS reviewers will rank applications and make funding recommendations. The following criteria will be used to rank project applications:
- Need for the Project
- Work Plan and Time Line for Project Completion
- Project Outcomes
- Project Budget
- Bonus: New Grant Recipients
- Bonus: Matching Funds