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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:

Entries in blue are Digitized Books on the Underground Railroad and Related Topics

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)

Bradford, Sarah

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman (1869)

The first biographical study of a singularly courageous and successful leader of groups of fugitives from slavery.

Churchill, Robert

The Underground Railroad and the Geography of Violence in Antebellum America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Clinton, Catherine

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom (Boston: Little, Brown, 2004)

     Serious, scholarly biography of Harriet Tubman

Diemer, Andrew

 Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad (New York: Knopf, 2022)

Diggins, Milt

Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line:   2015   Johns Hopkins U. Press

     Concerning “Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Slave Catcher from Baltimore MD”

Douglass, Frederick

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1882)

An autobiography of a freedom seeker who became a tireless and eminent advocate of the abolition of slavery.

Douglass, Frederick,

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.

Douglass, Frederick

On Slavery and the Civil War 2003  Dover

     A selection of his writings

Drake, Thomas

Quakers and Slavery in America 1950  Yale U. Press

     Scholarly examination of the evolution of anti-slavery beliefs among Quakers.

Drew, Benjamin

A North-Side View of Slavery: The Refugee (1856)

A Boston abolitionist’s compilation of interviews with individuals who fled slavery and reached safety in Canada.

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)

Franklin, John Hope and Schweninger, Loren

Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Gara, Larry

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.” 

Griest, Ellwood

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

Jackson, Maurice

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.

Jacobs, Harriet

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

The widely read autobiography of a woman who managed to escape an abusive master.

Kashatus, William

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

Katz, Jonathan

Resistance at Christiana: the Fugitive Slave Rebellion  1974  Cromwell

     The story of the small battle that occurred in nearby Christiana, Lancaster City, when fugitive slaves resisted and repulsed an attempt to recapture them.

Lanyon, Mark

Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania (Charleston, S. C.: History Press, 2022)

Lashatus, William

William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2021)

LaRoche, Cheryl

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

McGowan, James

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.

Nash, Gary

Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988)

Newman, Richard

Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New York: New York University Press, 2008)

Pennington, James

Fugitive Blacksmith, 3d ed. (1850)

The memoirs of a man once enslaved in Maryland who became a Presbyterian clergyman in New York.

Pickard, Kate

The Kidnapped and the Ransomed (1856)

The recollections of Peter Still of his life under slavery and his efforts to extricate himself and his family from that system.

Rediker, Marcus

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

Siebert, Wilbur

The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom (1898)

The first systematic academic historical study of the mass movement to facilitate pursuit of freedom from slavery.

Slaughter, Thomas

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

Smedley, R. C.

History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania (1883)


A pioneering historical account of an area of concentrated effort on behalf of fugitives.

Still, William

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.

Still, William

The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts … (1872)


An extensive recounting by a leading activist of activity centered in southeastern Pennsylvania, involving hundreds of cases of successful escapes from enslavement.


A valuable collection of contextual documents related to Still’s important work.

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.

Tillman, John W.

Biographical Sketch of the Times and Travels of John W. Tillman. Doe Run, Chester County, PA

     Auto biographical story of the slave, John W. Tillman.  It tells of his early life, several escape attempts, and his eventual success, running away to Thomas Garrett in Wilmington, DE and being placed on the Underground Railroad. 

Photocopy, Biographical Sketch of the Life and Travels of John W. Tillman, Doe Run, Chester County, PA. | Delaware Historical Society Digital Collections (

Tobin, Jacqueline

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

Truth, Sojourner

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.

Walker, Timothy ed.,

Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2021)

Williams, Isaac

Sunshine and Shadow of Slave Life (1885)

The reminiscences of a man who, though born free in Virginia, was subsequently forced into bondage there before fleeing northward to freedom.

Abolitionism and Related Developments


Blight, David

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

Angeli, Margaret

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

Rossi, Ann

Freedom Struggle: the Anti-Slavery Movement in America, 1830-1865  2005  National Geographic

     Slender but useful introduction to the issue.

Taylor, M.W.

Harriet Tubman, Antislavery Activist 1990

     Account of the extraordinary life of the UGRR’s most famous conductor. 

Winter, Jeanette

Follow the Drinking Gourd 1992  Dragonfly Books

     Illustrated book with poems about UGRR activity.  For young readers.

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