Apply to the Network to Freedom

Applications are accepted for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program twice a year: January 15 or July 15. The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program uses an online application. The application must be completed and submitted through this online platform - typed or handwritten forms submitted via post or email will not be accepted

The steps outlined below will assist you in completing your application and navingating the application process.

Contact your Regional Manager

The Network to Freedom team has Regional Managers assigned to support different areas of the United States in documenting Underground Railroad history. They are dedicated to supporting potential new members throughout the application process and beyond. It is best to contact them before beginning the application process and keep in contact with them as you fill out the application to make your submission as strong as possible. You can find contact information for the regional managers on our contact us page, or if you are unsure of who to contact, feel free to email us at network_to_freedom@nps.gov.

Learn about the new online application

Because of the recent transition to an online application, the Network to Freedom is offering extensive training opportunities to help transition to this new application system. To learn more about training opportunities and view learning resources, see our Online Application Training page.

Landscape photograph of a river during the wintertime.

Go to Network to Freedom Application

Go to the Network to Freedom's online application page and create an account to get started on your nomination.

Three women of different ages using a computer.

Online Application Training & Resources

Learn about how to use the Network to Freedom's online application.

Application Instructions

The Network to Freedom Program includes three types of listings. Applicants will need to fill out different sections of the application depending on what they are nominating.

Places that have a demonstrated and verified association to the Underground Railroad. Sites could include:

  • Stations on the Underground Railroad

  • Properties associated with prominent persons

  • Legal challenges related to escape and flight

  • Properties associated with documented escapes

  • Properties associated with documented rescues

  • Sites associated with kidnappings

  • Maroon communities

  • Destination sites

  • Churches associated with congregations active in the Underground Railroad

  • Cemeteries

  • Transportation routes

  • Military sites

  • Commemorative sites or monuments

  • Historic districts or neighborhoods

  • Archeological sites

Archives, Libraries, and Research centers with materials that highlight Underground Railroad stories and meet standards of accuracy, professionalism, and accessiblity

Educational and/or Interpretive Program that provides accurate and current information about Underground Railroad history. Programs may include:

  • A public program

  • Curriculum-based educational programs
  • Youth programs
  • A website
  • A tour
  • A performance
  • A Living history program
  • An Exhibit
Photograph of the inside of the living quarters of an enslaved person or family.

Sites

Go to the section of our application instructions that explains how to nominate a site to the Network to Freedom.

Photograph of the exterior of Howard County Library - a two store stone structure.

Facilities

Go to the section of our application instructions that explains how to nominate a facility to the Network to Freedom.

Photograph of a person in period costume speaking to a crowd of people

Programs

Go to the section of our application instructions that explains how to nominate a program to the Network to Freedom.

The Network to Freedom program has outlined complete application instructions. If you have questions, your regional manager is available to assist you.

Complete your Application

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program uses an online application. The form must be completed and submitted through this online platform - typed or handwritten forms submitted via post or email will not be accepted. Applications are accepted twice a year by January 15 or July 15.

Regardless of what kind of listing applicants choose to nominate, applicants must have the following information to complete the application:

  • Written permission from the property owner to nominate the potential new listing in the Network to Freedom.
  • A narrative and/or essay describing the potential new listing's connections to the Underground Railroad.
  • High quality photographs of the proposed new listing.
Landscape photograph of a river during the wintertime.

Go to Network to Freedom Application

Go to the Network to Freedom's online application page and create an account to get started on your nomination.


The Network to Freedom application consists of several long response questions detailing the nominated site, facility, or program. Many candidates prefer to work through these long response questions in a word processor prior to transferring them into the online application for submission. If you would like to do this, you can use the drop down buttons below to copy and paste the long response questions related to your nomination. Please note: if using citations, please make sure to use endnotes rather than footnotes.

Remember: candidates do not need to fill out all three sections of long response questions. Candidates only need to answer the long response questions related to whichever kind of listing you will nominate. To nominate a site, only answer the long response questions designated for "sites."

  • Describe the site’s association and significance to the Underground Railroad 
  • 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
  • Include a bibliography or list of citations for sources used through the document
  • Describe current educational programs, tours, markers, signs, brochures, site bulletins, or plaques at the site
  • Describe any local, State, or Federal historic designation, records, signage, or plaques at the site
  • If the site is open to the public, describe accessibility conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the documentation, preservation, commemoration, or interpretation of the site

  • Provide a general description of the facility and its purpose or mission
  • Describe the holdings or collections and discuss their significance to the Underground Railroad
  • List the Underground Railroad or slavery-related items or materials in the facility
  • Describe the documents the facility has to verify the sources of its collections
  • Describe the indexes or finding aids that are available for the facility’s collections
  • Describe the facility’s management and staff, and levels of training or certifications
  • Describe the types of publications, reports, or services the facility performs or produces
  • Describe the conditions of public use at the facility, including accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Describe visitation workload at the facility
  • Describe the facility’s traveling exhibit, interlibrary-loan, and photocopying or duplication policies and capabilities
  • Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the operation of the facility

  • Describe the program
  • What do you want your audience to know about the Underground Railroad, and how is it presented
  • Describe what advice you sought in developing your program
  • Identify historical sources of information and describe how they were used to develop the program. Include a bibliography.
  • Describe the educational objectives of the program, tour, or performance
  • For whom is the program intended? Is the program fully accessible to all?
  • Describe where the program has been presented
  • Describe how the program is evaluated and how you use the results to improve the program
  • How long has the program existed and what are the future plans for the program?
  • Describe the program’s management and staff, and levels of training or certification
  • Describe the nature and objectives of any partnerships that have contributed to the program

Submit Your Application

Applications can be submitted directly through the online application platform. The form must be completed and submitted through this website - typed or handwritten applications submitted via post or email will not be accepted.

Last updated: October 26, 2022