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The Underground Railroad’s Oral Histories

19 May 2023 10:13 AM | Anonymous

The Underground Railroad, which helped people escape slavery to freedom, necessarily operated in secrecy until the end of the Civil War. Now a grant from the National Park Service will support the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida in highlighting the history of this pivotal social movement.

The $350,000 grant through the U.S. Department of the Interior will allow the program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to gather, preserve, transcribe and promote digital video and audio recordings for use in museums, K-12 classrooms and documentaries.

The Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Oral History Project is a collaborative research project designed to shed light on one of the most important and least-understood social movements in American history.

“Conductors and freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad struggled against the power of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the executive branch for generations and in doing so left an unrivaled record of democratic striving and intersectional coalition building uniting African American, white, and Hispanic antislavery activists against tyranny,” said PAUL ORTIZ, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. “This is an incredible opportunity for University of Florida undergraduates, graduate students, and staff to learn the legacies of the most important grassroots democratic institution in American history.”

Under the guidance of the National Park Service and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, UF staff and students in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program will record the oral and family traditions of Underground Railroad descendants and representatives.

The Underground Railroad oral histories will be jointly housed at the National Park Service and the University of Florida Digital Collections at George A. Smathers Libraries.

You can read more in an article by Douglas Ray published in the University of Florida web site at:


  • 19 May 2023 3:07 PM | Anonymous
    The collection will have only those recorded by US descendants. I wonder how many escapees went to Canada and stayed there.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 20 May 2023 10:01 PM | Anonymous
    I wonder if the governor will allow this to be done.
    Link  •  Reply

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