The following is a listing of books dealing with the Underground Railroad. They are housed at our office at 120 N. Union Street in Kennett Square. Should you have questions about any of these books, please feel free to contact KURC through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entries in green are available for purchase through KURC
Recommended Works Concerning Slavery and the Underground Railroad in the Kennett Area
Charles Blockson, The Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania (Jacksonville, N. Caro.: Flame International, 1981)
Charles Blockson, ed., The Underground Railroad: First-Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1987)
A collection of first-hand stories of escapes from slavery, including one of Blockson’s forebears.
Fergus Bordewich, Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America (New York: Harper Collins, 2005)
Robert Churchill, The Underground Railroad and the Geography of Violence in Antebellum America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020)
Catherine Clinton, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom (Boston: Little, Brown, 2004)
Serious, scholarly biography of Harriet Tubman
Andrew Diemer, Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad (New York: Knopf, 2022)
Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line: 2015 Johns Hopkins U. Press
Concerning “Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Slave Catcher from Baltimore MD”
Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass (1845; Garden City, N. Y.: Dover Press, 1995)
One of the most influential slave autobiographies by the man who might be considered the most important African-American of the 19th C.
On Slavery and the Civil War 2003 Dover
A selection of his writings
Quakers and Slavery in America 1950 Yale U. Press
Scholarly examination of the evolution of anti-slavery beliefs among Quakers.
Dugan, M.L. & Ella J. Sestrich
East Linden Street: Abolition, Industry, & Diversity in Kennett Square, PA 2008 KURC
A brief work on a Kennett Square street that has been integrated for over 160 years, with emphasis on its abolitionist background.
Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015)
John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
Larry Gara, The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1961)
An attempt to separate UGRR myth from verifiable facts; available as e-book from Kindle
Gooch, Cheryl (ed)
On Africa’s Lands 2014 Lincoln University Press
“The forgotten stories of two Lincoln-educated missionaries in Liberia.”
John and Mary; or the Fugitive Slaves, A Tale of South-Eastern Pennsylvania 1873
Lancaster Inquirer; reprinted electronically by UNC-Chapel Hill
A fictional tale, written shortly after the Civil War, of freedom-seekers and those who helped them in this region. Available online without charge.
Jacobs, Norma (ed)
Quaker Roots: the Story of the Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends 1980 Western Quarterly Meeting
Selections dealing with the meeting houses of SE PA and MD, many of which were involved in the UGRR. Available at London Grove Meeting--$5.00
Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism 2009 U. Penn Press
1st great publicist of ant-slavery writing in America, in 18th C. Philadelphia.
Just Over the Line: Chester County and the UGRR 2002 Chester County Historical Society
Examination of the UGRR in early-mid 19th C in northern Delaware and Chester County
Resistance at Christiana: the Fugitive Slave Rebellion 1974 Cromwell
The story of the small battle that occurred in nearby Christiana, Lancaster Cty, when fugitive slaves resisted and repulsed an attempt to recapture them.
Mark Lanyon, Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania (Charleston, S. C.: History Press, 2022)
William Lashatus, William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2021)
Cheryl LaRoche, The Geography of Resistance: Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014)
Larson, Kate Clifford
Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero 2004 Ballantine Books
The most scholarly biography of the life and work of Harriet Tubman
Station Master of the Underground Railroad: the Life and Letters of Thomas Garrett Revised edition: 2005 McFarland
The only biography of the most important stationmaster of the UGRR on the east coast.
Gary Nash, Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988)
Richard Newman, Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New York: New York University Press, 2008)
Marcus Rediker, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist (Boston: Beacon Press, 2017)
Russo, MH, and PA
Hinsonville: a Community at the Crossroads 2005 Rosemont Publishing
Story of an African-American Village in Chester County
Thomas Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991)
Smedley, R. C
The History of the Underground Railroad in Chester & Neighboring Counties 1883; 2005
Stackpole Books has republished this work
Accounts of persons and UGRR activities gathered in the 1870s, less than a generation after the UGRR was intensely active in SE PA. This is probably the most important work on the UGRR for this area
The Underground Railroad: Authentic Narratives and First-Hand Accounts 1872; 2007 Porter & Coates;
New edited version by Dover Books
Written shortly after the Civil War by one of the most important agents of the UGRR and a chronicler of original UGRR stories without peer. The Dover edition is about half the length of the original. A Kindle e-version is also available.
Taylor, Frances C.
The Trackless Trail 1976 Privately published
Very readable pamphlet of DE/Chester County UGRR, based largely on Smedley
Taylor, Frances C.
The Trackless Trail Leads On 1995 Privately published
Very readable pamphlet of DE/Chester County UGRR, based largely on Smedley.
From Midnight to Dawn: the Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad 2008 Knopf, Doubleday
Portrayals of figures involved in UGRR and abolition, including Mary Ann Shadd Cary
The Narrative of Sojourner Truth 1850; 1997 Dover Press reprint
1st-hand account of the life of former slave, one of the most important abolitionists and speakers for progressive reform in the 19th C.
Timothy Walker, ed., Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2021)
Abolitionism and Related Developments
David Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2021)
Barbara Fields, Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland during the Nineteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985)
Gabrielle Foreman, Jim Casey, and Sarah Patterson, eds., The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021)
Bruce Levine, Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2021)
Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961)
Manisha Sinha, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016)
William Williams, Slavery and Freedom in Delaware, 1639-1865 (Wilmington, Del.: SR Books, 1996)
For Younger Readers
Thee, Hannah 1940
Illustrated book w poems about UGRR activity among 19th C Quakers For young readers
Guccione, Leslie Davis
Come Morning 1995 Carolrhoda Books
Fictional story of young people helping out with UGRR activity in the vicinity of what is now Hagley Museum
Freedom Struggle: the Anti-Slavery Movement in America, 1830-1865 2005 National Geographic
Slender but useful introduction to the issue.
Harriet Tubman, Antislavery Activist 1990
Account of the extraordinary life of the UGRR’s most famous conductor.
Follow the Drinking Gourd 1992 Dragonfly Books
Illustrated book with poems about UGRR activity. For young readers.