NEH Landmarks of the Underground Railroad:
From Christiana to Harpers Ferry
Faces and Places on the Underground Railroad in Ohio
Submitted by: Gail Greenberg, Library Media Specialist
Giddings Elementary School (PreK-8)
Cleveland (OH) Municipal School District
In this collaborative cross-curricular lesson between the library media specialist and classroom teachers, students use primary and secondary sources to investigate the lives and connections between Joshua R. Giddings (1795-1864), one of the most renowned antislavery leaders in the U.S. Congress, and Charles A. Garlick (1827-1912), who was born a slave in Virginia and escaped to Ohio in 1843 on the Underground Railroad. Students will read, analyze and discuss selected documents, focusing on each man’s experiences and accomplishments and the impact he had locally, regionally and nationally.
This procedure will then be expanded to include research of other Ohioans and their roles in the Underground Railroad and antislavery movement. Students will share their findings with the class through the creation of a biography cube, online scrapbook and biography report chronicling that person’s contributions to the causes of abolition and freedom. This lesson is appropriate for fourth through sixth grades.
II. Curriculum Standards
The following benchmarks and indicators taken from the Ohio Department of Education Academic Content Standards for English Language Arts, Social Studies and Library are addressed in this lesson:
Students will be able to:
· Use effective listening strategies, summarize major ideas and draw logical inferences from presentations and visual media.
of the source.
· Select and summarize important information and sort key findings into categories about a topic.
· Write informational reports that include facts, details and examples that illustrate an important idea.
III. Time Requirements
At least six, 50-minute class periods (one to introduce and discuss the topic; two to plan and research; two to write and develop projects; and one to share and assess.)
IV. Teacher and Student Resources
Digital History: Primary Source Documents
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
African American History
The Friends of Freedom Society
Ohio Underground Railroad Association – Ohio Underground Railroad History Links
Library of Congress
The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
National Geographic Online – The Underground Railroad
The Ohio Historical Society
The African-American Experience in Ohio 1850-1920
Ohio History Teachers
Ohio Memory – An Online Scrapbook of Ohio History
Underground Railroad Collections
Gallery: Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection
Safe Passage Online
Slavery in America
The Biography Maker – Bellingham Public Schools
Read Write Think – Bio-Cube
Carson, M. K. (2005). The underground railroad for kids: from slavery to freedom with
21 activities. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, Inc.
Hamilton, V. (1993). Many thousand gone: African Americans from slavery to freedom. New
York, NY: Knopf.
Hamilton, V. (1985). The people could fly: American black folktales. New York, NY:
Haskins, J. (1993). Get on board: the story of the underground railroad. New York, NY:
Higgins, B. L. & Pearsall, S. (1998). Next stop, freedom! : a resource guide on the underground railroad through Ohio and across the Great Lakes. Vermilion, OH: Great Lakes Historical Society.
Lester, J. (1998). From slave ship to freedom road. New York, NY: Dial Books.
Pearsall, S. (2002). Trouble don’t last. New York, NY: Knopf.
Rappaport, D. (2002). No more! Stories and songs of slave resistance. Cambridge, MA:
Rappaport, D. (2000). Freedom river. New York, NY: Jump at the Sun.
Rappaport, D. (1991). Escape from slavery: five journeys to freedom. New York, NY:
V. The Lesson
African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton.
and complete the Learned column on the K-W-L graphic organizer.
and Charles A. Garlick as examples.
1. Who created the source and why?
2. Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the event?
3. Was the recorder a neutral party?
4. Was the source meant to be public or private?
5. Did the recorder wish to inform or persuade others?
6. Was the information recorded during the event, immediately after the event, or after some lapse of time?
Levi Coffin, John Parker, John Brown, Rev. John Rankin, Abby Kelly Foster, Thomas and
Charity Rotch, John Price, Charles Langston, John Copeland, Shields Green, Lewis S.
Leary, Eliza Bryant, William Hubbard, Jonathan and Sarah Haines and Harriet Beecher
Days Four and Five
C. Summarize and conclude the lesson, highlighting the lives of Joshua R. Giddings and
Charles A. Garlick, the use of primary and secondary sources and the roles various Ohio
cities played in the Underground Railroad.
VI. Extension Activities
In addition to these lesson activities, structured for assigned media/computer class time, classroom teachers could have their students do the following:
Abolitionist: a person who held strong antislavery views
Agent: Underground Railroad code for a person who plotted a safe course and
made arrangements for escaping fugitive slaves
Conductor: an individual who helped escaping persons move from station to station on the Underground Railroad
Emancipation: to be freed from someone else’s control or power, especially from slavery
Enslave: to force another into bondage
Fugitive: someone who is fleeing from the law
Manumit: to free
Maroons: runaways who escaped
Master: A man who owned slaves
Station: Underground Railroad code for a safe place where fugitives were sheltered
Stationmaster: Underground Railroad code for a person who ran a safe house
Underground the network of places, people and pathways that helped slaves
Railroad: escape from slavery
VIII. Assessment Options
Each lesson element has an evaluation piece for which a grading rubric can be created.