International Underground Railroad Month | Network to Freedom
The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom acknowledges the significance of the Underground Railroad, and all those involved, for its contribution to the eradication of slavery in the United States and as a cornerstone of the more comprehensive civil rights movement that followed.
The Underground Railroad extended beyond the borders of the United States of America. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, Freedom Seekers found refuge in many places, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and Africa. US/ICOMOS and ICOMOS Canada acknowledge and celebrate the enduring legacy of the Underground Railroad.
US/ICOMOS is partnering with other ICOMOS National Committees to seek out exact places where those who self-liberated settled and the stories of their lives in these places.
In Spring 2021, the U.S. National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom staff requested that US/ICOMOS partner with them to expand the context of the Underground Railroad to an international scope. Our Emerging Professional Network (EPN) agreed to assist. EPN member Kaitlin Paecklar, with assistance from President Douglas Comer, EPN Chair Zoe Leung and staff, will oversee US/ICOMOS’s efforts to:
- Promote and celebrate International Underground Railroad Month in September 2021,
- Expand the U.S. National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Mapping Project to include international sites outside the United States, and
- Engage international partners in the initiative.
US/ICOMOS thanks the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program for reaching out to document the international context of the Underground Railroad and take note of its inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Sites of Memory designations. Click on the links to learn more about the Underground Railroad, the Network to Freedom, and the U.S. Underground Railroad Mapping Project.
US/ICOMOS recognizes the State of Maryland for providing the catalyst for enriching Underground Railroad history and in recognizing of all those involved in the Underground Railroad, including Maryland’s courageous Harriet Tubman, the brilliant orator Frederick Douglass and thousands of Freedom Seekers.
US/ICOMOS recognizes the United Nation’s Decade for People of African Descent as an important opportunity to commemorate the traumatic experiences and exceptional contributions of people of African descent to the Americas.
International Underground Railroad Month provides an opportunity for world-wide open dialogue that illuminates the hopes that arise from freedom for all people.
Celebration of International Underground Railroad Month
September is International Underground Railroad Month. The State of Maryland selected September as International Underground Railroad Month because September is the month when Freedom Seekers Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass self-liberated.
- September 1, 2021: Virtual event to celebrate International Underground Railroad Month and the sister sites of Josiah Henson Museum (North Bethesda, Maryland, USA) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site (Dresden, Ontario, Canada).
- September 1-30, 2021: Exhibition to celebrate International Underground Railroad Month and acknowledging the ties between the United States and Canada at the Wilson Center.
International Context of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
US/ICOMOS seeks to collect, connect, and share information and stories about Freedom Seekers who self-liberated, the places where they settled, and the stories of their self liberation.
Plans for 2021
- September 2021: US/ICOMOS is launching a GeoForm to collect information about people and sites associated with the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
- US/ICOMOS and the U.S. National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program are partnering to create a StoryMap with the information that was collected from the GeoForm.
- US/ICOMOS, thr U.S. National Park Service
- the U.S. National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and other partners are partnering to plan a webinar or webinar series to share information collected from the GeoForm and StoryMap project.
How to share your story:
Step 1: GeoForm
- Click on the link or the QR Code
- Fill out the form
Please provide information about the significance by writing about one of the following topics:
- Experiences enslaved people faced on their journey to freedom
- How enslaved populations impacted broader history
- Why is it important to tell these stories?
- Click Submit
Step 2: StoryMap
- A representative from US/ICOMOS will contact you to request help with translating your story into English and/or the language of your country and, if necessary, for more information.
- The U.S. National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program will feature one example telling the story of enslaved people, or communities, including a picture. An approximate location such as city and state of where the community/ person lived or settled should be provided to give context for this international movement.
Step 3: Lecture, Lecture Series, Conference or Conference Series: under development; more information will be provided later.
Partner with US/ICOMOS
US/ICOMOS seeks partnerships with other ICOMOS National Committees to establish the international context of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The focus areas include:
- Raising awareness about the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
- Promoting September as International Underground Railroad Month.
- Collecting, mapping, sharing, and translating information about exact places where Freedom Seekers self-liberated and settled and the stories of their lives in these places.
- Developing “Sister Sites” between and among sites that share a common pattern of history.
US/ICOMOS has secured cooperative commitments from three ICOMOS national committees–Canada, The Netherlands, and Brazil—and is actively recruiting more national committees to participate.
If you would like to assist with the project, please contact us at EPWG [at] usicomos.org.