TeachNYPL_Social Studies: The Underground Railroad to Canada (Gr. 6-8)
Annotation:Historical Fiction - In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom. How does this novel compare to the primary source first hand accounts of escaped slaves? What was happening politically in 1859 that may have influenced the events in Elijah of Buxton? Lexile 1057L.
Annotation:Primary Source Photograph - A group of refugee settlers, who followed the Underground Railroad to Windsor, Ontario. How does this photograph reflect or contrast to the novel Elijah of Buxton? (from NYPL Digital Collections - Image ID: 1159685)
Annotation:Primary Source Photographs - 2 pictures. Questions to consider: why is the word' abducted' used in both these photographs - do you think Harriet Tubman 'abducted' slaves - or helped to 'free' them? Why might the word 'abducted' have been used - and how does this reflect differing opinions on slavery (and the Underground Railroad) even after abolition?
Annotation:Primary Source - firsthand accounts of former slaves who settled in Upper Canada. Includes a section with narratives from settlers of Buxton, Ontario (pp. 291-307). Available as digital full text through Slavery & Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive (login required with your NYPL library card). This collection of narratives was published in early 1856 explicitly as an anti-slavery document for distribution in the US. Questions to consider: how do these narratives compare and contrast to the experiences in Elijah of Buxton? Lexile 1080L.
Annotation:Primary Source - compare and contrast this map of the era with the secondary source map below - why did this map end at the US border (Detroit)? What routes did the underground railroad follow - roads, rivers? Who do you think would have used this map - conductors on the Underground Railroad? or someone else? (from NYPL Digital Collections - Image ID: 1159683)
Annotation:Primary Source Political Cartoon - (from NYPL Digital Collections - Image ID: 1150352). Questions to consider - why are Ohio and Indiana important in this cartoon? What were the laws in Ohio and Indiana concerning slavery and escaped slaves? What was happening in 1862? (the year this cartoon was originally published) Who was the possible audience for this cartoon?
Annotation:Secondary source - details the corridors of escape to free northern states/territories, British Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Question to pose to students - how policies surrounding slavery in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas impact these routes? When was slavery outlawed in the British Commonwealth? What did this mean for British territories? (Map from NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)
Annotation:Secondary source - written by a sixth generation resident of Buxton, Ontario this title chronicles the history of the Underground Railroad from the Canadian perspective, with emphasis on Ontario and including a time line and a listing of historic sites such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden, Ontario to Harriet Tubman’s Canadian base of operations in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Annotation:Secondary Source - discusses the history of slavery in the United States (including the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850), slave life, the Underground Railroad, and the leaders, both black and white, of antislavery organizations.
Annotation:Historical Fiction/Primary Source - Originally published in 1852, many historians (and key historical figures at the time, including President Lincoln) consider this book the key anti-slavery work of the time, and one that helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War. Lexile 1050L.
Annotation:Primary Sources - anthology of abolitionist writings (in multiple formats - poetry, fiction, rhetoric, editorial, etc.) from the 18th and 19th century. Includes works from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, Abraham Lincoln.
Annotation:Fiction - A family of five moves into an house once used as a hiding place for runaway slaves. Mysterious sounds and events as well as the discovery of secret passageways make the family believe they are in grave danger.
Annotation:Secondary source - Describes the operation, stations, and famous conductors of the underground railroad, a network that helped slaves escape from bondage prior to the Civil War in the United States.
Annotation:Secondary source - A comprehensive introduction to the life and achievements of the heroic former slave details how after managing her own escape, Harriet Tubman returned 13 times to guide other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, in a portrait that also relates her subsequent contributions as a wartime cook, nurse, spy and suffragist.
Annotation:Secondary source - Presents an account of the Underground Railroad, the network of people and safe houses used to lead runaway slaves to freedom in the United States during the nineteenth century, and its significant role in the abolitionist movement.
Annotation:Secondary source - DVD documentary on William Still, one of the most unheralded individuals of the Underground Railroad, and details the accounts of black abolitionists who had everything at stake as they helped fugitives follow the North Star to Canada.
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For Social Studies Grades 6-8: Primary, secondary, and historical fiction titles representing multiple perspectives on Slavery in the United States, and the Underground Railroad to Canada. This list of books can be used to accompany Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic. In addition, this list can be used for Scope & Sequence Grade 7 Unit 5: Civil War & Reconstruction - Slavery in the United States. The central focus of this unit is: What were the experiences of escaped slaves who followed the Underground Railroad to Canada? Individual essential questions include: Was Canada a 'promised land'? How did the different national laws (British vs. American) concerning slavery before and after the Civil War impact the experiences of escaped slaves in Canada? [This includes the British Abolition Act of 1833 that abolished slavery in British colonies, the US Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the Suppression of the Slave Trade in 1852, and the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865 with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment.] How do primary and secondary sources on this topic depict the experiences of former slaves living in Canada?
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