What are Facilities?

Facilities are included in the Network to Freedom for their educational, research or interpretive nature that directly related to the Underground Railroad. Facilities can include, but are not limited to, archives and libraries, research centers, museums and museum collections, and cultural or commemorative centers.

How are Facilities Evaluated?

Facilities are evaluated based on the following:

  1. Accuracy: source material specific to the story presented in the program on which interpretation and presentation of information are based must be delineated and should include primary materials—letters, diaries, autobiographies, official records—where possible.
  2. Professionalism: 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, rather than specifying staff credentials.
  3. Operation: all programs must be in operation and not solely in the planning stages. There must also be plans for the future.

In addition to this evaluation, facilities must also:

  1. Be accessible to the public and where possible comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  2. For those facilities categorized as research centers, (a) the center director or key staff members should have an appropriate level of training and, (b) there should be a record of operations through measurable output, such as past and ongoing production of a journal or reports.

The first set of Network to Freedom questions for facilities.
The "facilities" portion of the Network to Freedom application showing F1 through F4.

Answering Facilities Specific Questions

The image above shows the first set of facilities specific questions on the application. The following are pointers for answering sections F2 through F4, highlighted in the image above.

F2. Provide a general description of the facility and its purpose or mission

Describe the facility overall. Many facilities that are eligible for the Network to Freedom will have the Underground Railroad as only part of their mission or collection. Be descriptive and give a comprehensive understanding of what the facility is or does.

F3. Describe the holdings or collections and discuss their significance to the Underground Railroad

Be very specific in describing what sort of collections the facility holds. For example: records of state agencies, county tax and court records, documents from local families or churches, books on local history, books on African American history, books on the Underground Railroad, etc. List specific subsets or collections within the facility that might be useful for Underground Railroad research, as well. Next, discuss how the information and materials in the collection can be used by researchers to investigate the Underground Railroad in the locality or state.

F4. List the Underground Railroad or slavery-related items or materials in the facility

Provide a list of the document groups or individual documents relevant to Underground Railroad and slavery research that the facility has. In addition, provide indexes and documents that demonstrate the types of materials available.

The second set of questions relating to the Network to Freedom for facilities applications.
The "facilities" portion of the Network to Freedom application showing F5 through F6.

The image above shows a portion of the next set of facility specific questions on the application. The following are pointers for answering sections F5 and F6, highlighted in the image above.

F5. Describe the documents the facility has to verify the sources of its collections

Describe how the collection was acquired and the policies for accessioning new materials. Next, explain how the facility knows the origins and authenticity of materials in the collection.

F6. Describe the indexes or finding aids that are available for the facility's collections.

This is one of the most important questions for facilities. If there are no finding aids, the usefulness of the collection for research is minimized. Explain how researchers have locate specific items of interest within the collection.

Last updated: August 28, 2018