The Underground Railroad was meant to be a set of secret pathways, and its traces have been obscured by time. But Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan, who won a Coretta Scott King Honor for their previous book, show how archaeologists and historians sift through corn cobs and root cellars, study songs and quilts, and use the latest technology to reconstruct those heroic journeys. Freedom Roads offers both a fresh look at the escape routes from slavery and an introduction to the tools, methods, and insights of archaeology, anthropology, and historical conservation. Here is a modern-day detective story that uncovers the traces of a time in American history when courageous slaves and idealistic abolitionists defied the law and saved lives.
Running South : artifacts from Fort Mose
Land of the free : History on a ship's log
A more perfect Union : learning from the law
Running : The WPA slave narratives
Steal away : the enslaved speak through spirituals
I will be heard : archaeology meets an oral tradition
midnight seekers after liberty : anecdotes and memories uncover the past
The last stop : outrunning the fugitive slave laws
A mystery : when history keeps a secret
The search continues.
"Gr. 5^-8. From Florida's Fort Mose, established by fugitive slaves in 1732, to discoveries made within the past few years, the authors examine the origins and development of the Underground Railroad, with a special focus on the varieties and limitations of historical evidence. They clearly establish that evidence about the railroad is scanty or circumstantial, pointing to thermal scans of suspected sites, the discovery of a hidden closet in an old Brooklyn house, spirituals, legal claims, and family anecdotes. Of course, they also consider narratives of escaped slaves and oral history gathered by WPA workers, cautioning against the uncritical use of such evidence. Showing how facts and inferences from all of these sources can be combined to create a general picture, they conclude that the Underground Railroad was probably a multitude of individual initiatives rather than a unified, systematic organization. Maps, sidebars, contemporary documents, and a scene-setting painting at each chapter's head add both information and atmosphere. Valuable as much for its approach as for its specific topic. Readers wanting more will welcome the closing multimedia resource list. --John Peters"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"The Underground Railroad and one woman's fight for equality are the subjects of two nonfiction volumes. Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan explore the ways historians have traced the path of the enslaved as they traveled northward to freedom in Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad. Opening with archeologists' discovery of Fort Mose, "the first settlement of freed men and women in America," the authors demonstrate how the study of artifacts, laws, slave narratives and more contribute to an understanding of how this crucial chapter of American history evolved. Reproductions of period photographs and documents extend the value of this well-researched volume, and James Ransome's half-tone watercolor paintings open each chapter. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved