Underground Railroad: Escape from Slavery

Article excerpt

Underground Railroad: Escape From Slavery, http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/underground_railroad/. Created and maintained by Scholastic, Inc. Reviewed September-November, 2010.

This interactive website, created by the children's book publisher, Scholastic. Inc. aims to educate elementary and middles school students about the experience of freedom seekers who used the Underground Railroad to end their enslavement. Designed as an experiential, educational simulation, users of this site are cast as an enslaved person in the antebellum period who escapes from slavery and utilizes the underground railroad to secure their freedom. This storyline of this simulation is augmented with short, primary-source based information about the underground railroad grouped according to the following themes: On the Plantation, Escape! Reaching Safety, Reaching Freedom, and Tell The Story. Interspersed amongst these vignettes are extensive activities that appear to be envisioned as possible enrichment activities to be used by teachers and students.

Though this website does not break any new ground, it does an admirable job of describing the difficult choices that freedom seekers faced, the reality of enslaved life in the United States, and how abolitionist sentiment helped create the American civil war, while not succumbing. The creators of this site were also clearly aware that the nineteenth century milieu is not one that students are intimately familiar with, and so they have taken great care to illustrate the differences between that time and our own, all within an intricate but visually clean interface. Unfortunately, after constructing a useful interface, the authors concentrated on the familiar Underground Railroad narrative, leaving out the story of those who fled south to Canada, Florida, and the West Indies out their storyline.

The manner in which this website utilizes primary. …


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