Informing Children

about

Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad

Through Children's Books

located

at

The University at Albany Libraries

Karen Grimwood, graduate assistant, University at Albany, Compiler

This list contains some items dealing with or alluding to the Underground Railroad, ranging from 1856 to 1955, which may give some insight into the way children were informed of this subject in the mainstream culture of that period.

Items are from the Miriam Snow Mathes Historical Children’s Literature Collection in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany Libraries.

Old Children’s Books As Sources for Black History & Cultural Studies

Exhibit curated by David Mitchell and Karen Grimwood, February, 2003

Currently on display in the University at Albany Main Library, Periodicals Room in conjunction with Threads of Scholarship: African American History and Storytelling in African American Quilts Exhibit

__________________________________________________________________________
Antebellum Period

Austin, Jane G. Dora Darling, the Daughter of the Regiment. Boston: Lee & Shepard, c1864.

Guild, Caroline Snowden Whitmarsh. Older Than Adam. Boston : Brown and Taggard, c1860.

Child’s Anti-Slavery Book: Containing a Few Words About American Slave Children and Stories of Slave-Life. NY: Carlton & Porter, 1859. (reprint Miami: Mnemosyne Publishing, 1969).

Frost, Maria Goodell. Gospel Fruits, or, Bible Christianity Illustrated. Cincinnati: American Reform Tract and Book Society, 1856.

Harris, Joel Chandler. Daddy Jake the Runaway. Saint Nicholas Magazine, 16:6, April 1889, pg.431.

Hartman, Gertrude. These United States and How They Came to Be. NY: Macmillan, 1932.

Miers, Earl Schenck. The Rainbow Book of American History. Illustrated by James Daugherty. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1955.

Pollard, Josephine. History of the United States Told in One Syllable Words. NY: McLoughlin Brothers, n.d. (circa 1885)

Shackelford, Jane Dabney. The child's story of the Negro. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, c1956.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Young Folks’ Edition. Chicago: M.A. Donahue & Co., n.d. (Two editions from the 1890s)

Underground Railroad

Cavanna, Betty. Secret Passage, A Mystery Story for Girls. Illustrated by Jean MacLaughlin. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c.1946, 1966.

Coffin, Charles Carleton. Building the Nation. New York, Harper, [c1882]

Curtis, Anna L. Stories of the Underground Railroad. NY: The Island Workshop Press Co-op., Inc., 1941.

Hartman, Gertrude. These United States and How They Came to Be. NY: Macmillan, 1932.

Howard, Elizabeth. North Winds Blow Free. NY: William Morrow & Co., 1949.

Hughes, Langston. Famous American Negroes. NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1954.

Let’s Make a Play: Twelve Plays by Children. NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940. “Call to Freedom” pg.231-266.

Meadowcroft, Enid La Monte. By Secret Railway: A Story of the Underground Railroad. Illustrated by Henry C. Pitz. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1948.

Miers, Earl Schenck. The Rainbow Book of American History. Illustrated by James Daugherty. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1955.

Petry, Ann. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1955.

Swift, Hildegarde Hoyt. The Railroad to Freedom: A Story of the Civil War. Illustrated by James Daugherty. NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1932.

North Star Shining, a Pictorial History of the American Negro. Illustrated by Lynd Ward. NY: W. Morrow & Co, 1947.

Allee, Marjorie Hill. Susanna and Tristram. Illustrated by Hattie Longstreet Price. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1929. Story of Quakers aiding the Underground Railroad along the Ohio River.

Bontemps, Arna. The Story of the Negro. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948. pg.140-146
An overview of the Underground Railroad.

Cavanna, Betty. Secret Passage, A Mystery Story for Girls. Illustrated by Jean MacLaughlin. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c.1946, 1966. An old secret passage is discovered and the main character tries to discover its purpose (pg.102, 122, 176)

Coffin, Charles Carleton. Building the Nation. New York, Harper, [c1882] pg.418-424
“It was a strange railroad. It had no locomotive, no rails, no cars. It ran in the darkness. It was invisible.” pg.418

Curtis, Anna L. Stories of the Underground Railroad. NY: The Island Workshop Press Co-op., Inc., 1941. Stories include chapters about Isaac T. Hopper, Levi Coffin, Thomas Garrett, and Harriet Tubman.

Hartman, Gertrude. These United States and How They Came to Be. NY: Macmillan, 1932. pg.263-264 “Many people in the North felt sorry for the escaping slaves and wanted to help them. So they planned routes by which the runaways could be smuggled north and into Canada. These routes formed the ‘underground railroad.’” pg.263.

Heal, Edith. The First Book of America. Illustrated by Fred Collins. NY: Franklin Watts, 1952. pg.61“All over the country, people argued about slavery. Some Northerners joined the Underground Railroad, to help Negroes escape to Canada where they were safe from their masters. This was not a railroad at all, but a chain of hiding places where people kept the slaves hidden during the day, sent them to a station farther north at night.”

Howard, Elizabeth. North Winds Blow Free. NY: William Morrow & Co., 1949. pg.13- end.
“Then he told her how some people in the North were working to help as many slaves as they could to escape and go to Canada where they could be free and never be afraid anymore. It was to help these slaves and hide them during their journey that he had built the little secret room behind the spring house...”


Huberman, Leo. We, The People. Illustrated by Thomas H. Benton. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1947. pg.176 Passage about underground railroad.

Hughes, Langston. Famous American Negroes. NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1954. pg.35-42
This book contains a chapter about Harriet Tubman.

Hunt, Mabel Leigh. Lucinda: A Girl of 1860. Illustrated by Cameron Wright. Philadelphia: Frederick A. Stokes, 1934. pg.103-111
Lucinda and her family are Quakers, and she discovers a secret about her Uncle Simon: “I am a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In other words... I assist Negroes to freedom whenever they come my way.” pg.103

Let’s Make a Play: Twelve Plays by Children. NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940. “Call to Freedom” pg.231-266.
The plays in this book were written by children. “...Call to Freedom, a dramatization of the famed Underground Railroad by which slaves escaped from the South in the pre-Civil War days...”

Meader, Stephen W. Boy With a Pack. Illustrated by Edward Shenton. NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939. pg.246-297
This book is about a boy’s adventures as he travels from New Hampshire to Ohio. On his adventures, he encounters conductors of the Underground Railroad:
“This farm’s a station on what they call the ‘Underground Railroad.’ In the last five years I reckon Father’s helped nigh onto a hundred slaves on their way to Canada.” pg.247.


Meadowcroft, Enid La Monte. By Secret Railway: A Story of the Underground Railroad. Illustrated by Henry C. Pitz. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1948.
“[Y]ou’re helping slaves escape. Giving them compasses to show them the way north and clothes that will change the way they look...” pg.167 Contains bibliography

Miers, Earl Schenck. The Rainbow Book of American History. Illustrated by James Daugherty. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1955. pg.159-164
Contains a chapter about the Underground Railroad called “By the North Star.”

Petry, Ann. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1955.
Story of Harriet Tubman, introducing concept of Underground Railroad: “he must have gone on an underground railroad... People in the border states, who had been sheltering runaway slaves, helped further the mystery of an underground road” pg.52-53. The remainder of the book documents Harriet’s life, including her involvement with the Underground Railroad.

Swift, Hildegarde Hoyt. The Railroad to Freedom: A Story of the Civil War. Illustrated by James Daugherty. NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1932.
Story of Harriet Tubman. This book contains a bibliography containing titles of interest.

Books alluding to Underground Railroad

Guild, Caroline Snowden Whitmarsh. Older Than Adam. Boston : Brown and Taggard, c1860. pg.103-107
“the slaves suddenly fled, and escaped to Canada... she went once to rescue a friend of her mother’s, was seized and sold... she wanted to learn, and to be free; so she ran away the second time...”

Pollard, Josephine. History of the United States Told in One Syllable Words. NY: McLoughlin Brothers, n.d. pg.101
One passage tells of John Brown, and how “he and his friends made a way for slaves to get to Can-a-da where they would be free. Brown was a shrewd man, and for some time these things were done on the sly. But some one found out his plans and made them known to those who were his foes.” pg.101

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Young Folks’ Edition. Chicago: M.A. Donahue & Co., n.d. (1890?)
Stowe’s story condensed and simplified for children.
“Eliza with her boy was travelling north to Canada. Kind people helped her all the way. She passed from friend to friend, till she had arrived safely at a village where the people were Quakers.” pg.25

Books containing passages about fugitive slaves

Austin, Jane G. Dora Darling, the Daughter of the Regiment. Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1864.

Berry, Erick [Allena Champlin Best]. Whistle Round the Bend. NY: Oxford University Press, 1941.
This is the fictitious story of one of 40 slaves that fled from captivity in Cuba to New Haven, where they were brought to trial.

Child’s Anti-Slavery Book: Containing a Few Words About American Slave Children and Stories of Slave-Life. NY: Carlton & Porter, 1859. (reprint Miami: Mnemosyne Publishing, 1969).
“John’s master was very cruel to him... the brutal treatment of his master at last rendered John desperate, and he determined to run away. It was a fearful risk...” pg.131-132

Finley, Martha. Mildred’s Boys and Girls. NY: A.L. Burt, 1886.
A family of fugitive slaves comes to stay with a family who hires them to work for them, and attempts to conceal their history.

Frost, Maria Goodell. Gospel Fruits, or, Bible Christianity Illustrated. Cincinnati: American Reform Tract and Book Society, 1856.
“John Brown had been a slave, and a constant fear and dread that he might be taken back again to the prison-house from whence he had escaped, made his life one of restlessness and uncertainty.” pg.29

Hamilton, Mary A. The Story of Abraham Lincoln. Illustrated by S.T. Dadd. London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, n.d. pg.40
“North of a certain line, slavery did not exist. Slaves used sometimes to run away from their masters and escape across this line; but in every Northern State there was a law, that escaped black slaves had to be handed back to their master if he claimed them.” pg.40

Harris, Joel Chandler. Daddy Jake the Runaway, and Short Stories Told After Dark. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, c.1889, 1972. pg.1-82

Daddy Jake the Runaway. Saint Nicholas Magazine, 16:6, April 1889.
“Daddy Jake the Runaway” is the story of a fugitive slave.

Nolen, Eleanor Weakley. The Cowhide Trunk. Illustrated by Decie Merwin. NY: Oxford University Press, 1941.
The story of fugitives smuggled to freedom in a cowhide trunk. “Fugitives have been smuggled away in trunks before this, you know, and that trunk is plenty big enough” pg.76

Optic, Oliver. Watch and Wait, or The Young Fugitives. NY: Hurst, n.d. (1864?)
Story of fugitive slaves as they make their way to freedom.
“And now, having seen the young fugitives safely through all their trials and perplexities… we take leave of them, in the hope that the reign of Freedom will soon be extended to every part of our beloved country, and that the sons of toil shall no longer WATCH AND WAIT for deliverance from the bonds of the slave-master.” pg.288

 

Exhibit created by David Mitchell, curator pro bono of the Historical Children’s Literature Collection, and Karen Grimwood, graduate assistant. February-March 2003

Updated March 2003

Page Maintained by:

Deborah M. LaFond
Social Sciences Bibliographer
University at Albany, State University of New York
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
dlafonde@albany.edu

Karen L. Starr
M.A. History/M.L.S.
Archivist and Reference Librarian
College of St. Rose, Albany, NY
Voorheesville Public Library
Voorheesville, NY
klstarr@earthlink.net