About the Network to Freedom Partners Database
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 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 along side, and often in cooperation with, the National Park Service to fulfill 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 important, it is often through the dedicated efforts of Network Partners that elements are added to the Network to Freedom.
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’s 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 for general issues on the Underground Railroad and the Network to Freedom Program. They are also included in Network directories that the National Park Service publishes from time to time.