The Underground Railroad in Illinois

By Robertson, Stacey | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

The Underground Railroad in Illinois


Robertson, Stacey, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


The Underground Railroad in Illinois. By Glennette Tilley Turner. (Glen Ellyn, IL: Newman Educational Publishing, 2001. Pp. xix, 285. Illustrations, maps, index. Paper, $19.00).

This rich collection of information about the underground railroad in Illinois will interest middle- and high-school teachers as well as a more general audience. Glennette Tilley Turner has skillfully gathered both general facts and fascinating anecdotes to construct a lively educational source.

After sharing with her readers how she became interested in the study of the underground railroad, Turner organizes her book into fifty central questions. She then answers these questions with facts, examples, and stories, which are usually one-to-two pages in length (the questions and answers occupy a little over half of the book). Her questions range from the general, "What was the Underground Railroad?", to the specific, "Who operated the Underground Railroad stations?" The remainder of the book is dedicated to lesson plans, examples of sources, maps, a list of purported UGRR stations in Illinois, arid a bibliography.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is Turner's boxed highlights which are featured on nearly every page. Interspersed throughout her fifty questions, Turner offers more in-depth information on chosen individuals, groups, events, or issues. Readers will probably know very little about the people and topics she chooses, but she clearly establishes their importance to the UGRR. Often these stories are accompanied by images, photos, and maps. In her discussion of "women in the anti-slavery movement," for example, we learn that the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London decided to exclude women delegates from participating and we see an image of the meeting. We also learn about Charles Volney Dyer, a Chicago doctor who aided fugitives, "Mother" Bickerdyke, a Galesburg resident and famous Civil War nurse, and Benjamin Lundy an antislavery editor who lived in Putnam County, among many others.

Turner's lesson plans and primary sources will be of special interest to middle-and high-school teachers. Her creative lesson plans, designed to allow students to "take a walk in their shoes," include science, math, art, writing, drama, and music projects. …

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