Map of the Underground Railroad
Image location: http://www.nsm.buffalo.edu/~sww/0history/ugrrmapUS.gif
This map shows the general movement of the Underground Railroad during 1860. Although this map is not historical in itself, its’ content displays important historical information. This image, along with several others, is located on a website on western New York history. There is not a specific author or date associated with the image (at least on this website), but it seems to have been produced very recently. This map presents several pieces of data associated with the Underground Railroad (including movement patterns, population, and state status).
This map is a great tool for any class that is studying the abolitionist movement and the Civil War. In general, students can learn about the movement patterns involved in the abolitionist movement. Often, students are given a cursory lesson on the implications of this movement, but this map allows for a more involved discourse on the subject. Students can see that the movement of people included Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. Students can also see that certain states had more people that were involved, specifically the Deep South, while some states had very few people. This map can be used in conjunction with the other maps on the website to produce a solid image of what paths people took to escape slavery.
The two pieces of information that I find important on the map are the number of paths and the population information. The paths that are incorporated on the map are important because they show both the way people escaped and how many people were involved. The orange arrows represent the general paths people took to escape slavery, showing that the movement was very wide-ranging. The width of the orange arrows show how many people escaped on a particular path, allowing students to see how certain paths were very common. This particular information may surprise students when they see how many people went to Mexico and the Caribbean. Along with the width of the arrows, many of the states show the population of people involved.
This map would ideally be incorporated in a lesson about Abolition or the Civil War. By using this map as a foundational activity for the lesson, students will be able to see a general representation of the information. In combination, students could use historically relevant primary sources to learn about personal accounts of this event.