The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad Web Quest



Harriet Tubman (far left) standing with a group of slaves whose escape she assisted


The Underground Railroad was a secret system of people (both black and white) and places that helped escaped slaves travel north to freedom. (It was not actually a railroad, but the people involved in it used railroad terms to describe their actions. For example, conductors were people who traveled with slaves along their route.) The Underground Railroad's (AKA) UGRR was a route that extended from the northern US states to Canada. In Canada, escaped slaves could not be re-captured by their "owners.” In the northern, free US states, "owners" could legally re-capture their slaves. That is why NYS had such an important role during the time of the UGRR.  New York State was the last stop before TRULY you were free. It is estimated that about 100,000 slaves escaped to freedom using the Underground Railroad.


The Task

Picture for a moment that you are no longer living in the twenty-first century, but instead it is the 1850’s.  You are no longer a student at Beaver River Elementary School, now you are a slave working on a plantation.  Day in and day out you are forced to work in the fields, even though you are only nine or ten years old. The last few weeks there has been talk about big changes coming up and about a thing called the Underground Railroad and a person named Moses. All the adults on the plantation have been talking about the President and some speech he gave. Now you must decide at only nine or ten years old if you want freedom badly enough to risk your life. To help yourself you start listening and learning all you can about this thing called to Underground Railroad and its very secret code words you must use when asking questions.  Are you ready?  Do you have what it takes to escape and leave everything you have ever known behind…never to return?


* Before you begin, please review the rubric in your student packet that will be used to grade your work done during this web quest.

The Process and Resources


Part 1:  

Visit the website (students will click on quilt above to access website) click on the picture and read the definition.  After you think you have learned these important code words take the vocabulary quilt quiz in your student packet.  This quiz will be collected as part of your grade.

Part 2: 

Visit the website: click on above link

Here you will take a journey on the UGRR.  You need to make dangerous choices along your journey on the UGRR but you know the only way you will truly be FREE is to escape during the night and hide during the day from those who want to bring you back to the only life you have ever known…that of the slave.  As you go through this web site you will be answering questions in your student packet. These questions will be collected as part of your grade.



Part 3: 

After you complete the journey go to Routes to freedom” read and explore this page. Then visit the website (students will click on pictures above to access website.) Here you will study the map of routes slaves took to Canada through New York State. Then draw this route on the NYS map in your student packet and answer the question on the bottom of the page.



Part 4:  

Congratulations! You’ve made it to freedom! Now you will finish answering the short response question in your student packet based on what you have learned during your journey on the Underground Railroad.



Now that you have been introduced to the Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad I’m sure you have many thoughts and feeling about how life was as a slave.  To continue your journey visit the following websites or read one of the recommended books.  These sites have plenty of information and places of interest to visit in your travels through New York State.

This web site is of Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn NY.  It is full of interesting photos and information on tours and events at the Harriet Tubman Home.

This web site includes the society’s collection of photos, articles, programs, projects, official documents, & letters from Presidents, Governors, Mayors, Elected Officials and Students recognizing the contributions and achievements of Araminta, Aramita, (Minty) Harriet Ross Green Tubman Davis.

History of 'The Drinking Gourd' from NASA Quest Learning Technologies Channel At this location, you read an explanation behind the significance of this song

Identical Information at History of 'The Drinking Gourd'

Underground Railroad and Quilt History

The underground railroad and the use of quilts as messengers for fleeing slaves.