The Kennett Underground Railroad Center is engaged in research throughout the area. We like to center our research on the areas close to Kennett Square but often find ourselves not only throughout Chester County but also in Delaware County, Lancaster County, Maryland and Delaware.
Of late, our own Board member, Michele Sullivan, has been doing extensive research into the African American Abolitionists in our area. After six years of research, Michele's work has been published in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. The following is the abstract of that article which can be found at:
Historians have traditionally recounted the history of the Underground Railroad in Chester County and elsewhere in Pennsylvania as the work of heroic Quakers. When African Americans are included, for example, in R. C. Smedley’s History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, they are nearly always mentioned only by their first names or have often been reduced to the role of “assistants.” Smedley overlooked the important function of free Black churches and residential communities. This article illuminates the stories of African American abolitionists in Chester County, including their part in assisting fugitives escape and the various forms of resistance in which they engaged. Utilizing original documents, letters, archival records, census data, newspapers, and the perspectives of recent historians, this article provides a frame and a context by which to understand the contributions of local Blacks to the larger story of abolition and the Underground Railroad.