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Join the Network to Freedom

Magnolia Plantation slave quarters (Cane River Creole NHP) / "Contraband" or Fugitive Slaves, Cumberland County, Virginia, 1862 (Library of Congress)

What is the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program?


Public Law 105-203 the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 directs the National Park Service (NPS), to establish a program that tells the story of resistance against the institution of slavery in the United States through escape and flight. This story is illustrative of a basic founding principle of this Nation, that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression. Through this National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, NPS is demonstrating the significance of the Underground Railroad not only in the eradication of slavery, but as a cornerstone of our national civil rights movement.

The Program is coordinating preservation and education efforts nationwide, and is working to integrate local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories. There are three main components to the Program:

•  Educating the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad;

•  Providing technical assistance to organizations that are identifying, documenting, preserving and interpreting sites, approximate travel routes and landscapes related to the Underground Railroad, or that are developing or operating interpretive or educational programs or facilities; and

•  Develop a Network of sites, programs, and facilities with verifiable associations to the Underground Railroad, referred to as the "Network to Freedom" or the "Network".

One of the principal objectives of the program is to validate the efforts of local and regional organizations, and make it easier for them to share expertise and communicate with the NPS and each other.

What are the benefits of being listed in the Network to Freedom?

Specific advantages of inclusion in the Network include:

National recognition of the verifiable association of historic sites, programs, and facilities with the Underground Railroad. 

Inclusion in a Network database featured on the Program’s web site, which will include standard information on every site, program, and facility that has been reviewed and accepted into the Network. 

Eligibility for Network to Freedom grants, when funds are appropriated, and assistance in locating project funding. The Network to Freedom Program is working with partners to identify funding sources and raise funds to support interpretation and commemoration efforts. 

The use and display of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom logo. 

Inclusion in a nationwide system of comparable sites, programs, and facilities that fosters networking and coordinating educational, preservation and commemorative activities.