Secondary sources

Bassett, T.D. Seymouth. The Growing Edge: Vermont Villages 1840-1880. (Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society, 1992).

Blockson, Charles L. The Underground Railroad. (NY: Berkeley Books, 1989).

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. (NY: Library of America, 1994).

Gara, Larry. The Liberty Lines. (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1961).

Ludlum, David M. Social Ferment in Vermont. (NY: Columbia University Press, 1939).

Siebert, Wilbur H. Vermont’s Anti-slavery and Underground Railroad Record. (Columbus, OH: Spahr and Glen, 1937).

Still, William. The Underground Railroad. (Chicago 1872; Philadelphia: Ebony Classics, 1970).

Winks, Robin W. The Blacks in Canada: A History. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1971).

Zirblis, Ray. Friends of Freedom: The Vermont Underground Railroad Survey Report. (Montpelier, VT: Vermont Division of Historic Preservation, 1997).

For children

Blockson, Charles. “The Underground Railroad.” National Geographic. (July, 1984).

Bryant, Louella. The Black Bonnet. (Shelburne, VT: New England Press, 1996).

Cheney, Cora. Vermont: The State with the Storybook Past. (Shelburne, VT: New England Press, 1996).

Hamilton, Virginia. Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom. (NY: Knopf, 1993).

Hansen, Ellen, ed., The Underground Railroad: Life on the Road to Freedom. (Carlisle, MA: Discovery Enterprises, Ltd., 1995).

Haskins, Jim. Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad, (Scholastic, 1993).

Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. (NY: Knopf, 1993).

Paterson, Katherine. Jip: His Story. (NY: Lodestar Books, 1996).

Paulson, Gary. NightJohn. (NY: Dell Books, 1995).

Town histories

After Siebert’s book, town histories are often a good place to begin the Vermont portion of a research project on the underground railroad. Often chapters on the Civil War include stories of fugitives and underground railroad stops. Once one has found actual names, dates, and places, it is logical to move on to newspapers and other primary documents found in manuscript collections. The Vermont Historical Society, the Howe Library at the University of Vermont, and the Vermont Room at the State Library all have good collections of town histories.

Vermont newspapers

Vermont’s newspapers were quite vocal in their opinions on slavery, colonization, and abolition. Often one can find notices telling of fugitives in the area, editorials on a wide variety of slavery and anti-slavery topics, responses to the Vermont Legislature’s actions, and responses to national issues such as the Fugitive Slave Act. While one can find information as early as the 1830s, there is much more to be found in the 1850s-1860s. Check the microfilm departments at the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Howe Library at the University of Vermont, and Baker Library at Dartmouth College.

  • Bellows Falls Argus
  • Burlington Free Press
  • Burlington Weekly Sentinel
  • Green Mountain Freeman (Montpelier, VT)
  • St. Albans Messenger
  • Vergennes Vermonter
  • Vermont Patriot & State Gazette
  • Vermont Watchman & State Journal
  • Voice of Freedom

Manuscript collections

Several libraries and museums in the state contain manuscript materials relating to the underground railroad. Often materials can be found under topic headings such as “slavery,” “anti-slavery,” “abolition,” “fugitives,” and “underground railroad.” If you suspect that a particular family aided fugitive slaves, look for manuscripts under that family’s name at your local library or historical society.

  • Howe Library (Special Collections Department), University of Vermont, Burlington. The Wicker Family Papers.
  • Bennington Museum Library, Bennington. The Day Papers.
  • East Montpelier Historical Society. The Peck and Hill Papers.
  • Rokeby Museum, Ferrisburg.
  • Sheldon Museum, Middlebury, Vermont: Robinson Family Papers, Rokeby Collection.
  • Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier.

Places to visit

Rokeby Museum, RD 1, Box 1540, Route 7, Ferrisburg, Vermont. Home of Rowland T. Robinson, anti-slavery activist. One of the museum’s school programs focuses on the underground railroad. Students investigate Rokeby’s role in the underground railroad through the use of artifact discovery, the study of original letters to the Robinson family and outbuilding activities. School programs can be arranged by calling the museum at (802) 877-3406.

The Underground Railroad: Vermont and the Fugitive Slave mural, painted by Sam Kerson. Located at the Vermont Law School, Royalton, Vermont. Arrangements for a visit with the artist can be made by calling Dragon Dance Theatre at (802) 223-5124 or purchase of a video describing the mural can be made by calling Green Valley Media at (802) 862-2024.