Tell the Story

Imagine the year is 1870. You were once a slave who escaped on the Underground Railroad. You have been asked to share the story of your courageous journey and to describe the brave people who helped you along the way. Answer any or all of the questions below.

To help you answer these questions, think about what you’ve learned in this online activity, from the background slideshows to the story of the slave who escaped from Kentucky. If you want to learn even more, read the “Slave Stories.”

Type your answers in the box under each question. When you’re done, you can print out your story to share a hard copy with friends and family.

Question 1 Tell me about your life as a slave. Where did you live? What kinds of work did you do? What were some of the hardest things about your life? Question 2 Tell me about your escape from the South. Why did you decide to flee? How did you travel? How did you find your way? How did you survive? How did you feel? Question 3 Tell me about the people you encountered on the Underground Railroad. What kinds of people did you come across? What are some of the different ways that they helped you? How did the abolitionists influence the Underground Railroad? Question 4 Tell me about when what happened after you reached freedom. Where did you settle? Why did you choose that place? What kind of work did you do? What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you feel starting your new life? Question 5 Tell me about the time around the Civil War. How did you feel when the southern states seceded? Did you or anyone you know fight in the war? Why? Explain your feelings about Abraham Lincoln. How did you feel when the war was over and slavery was abolished?

Slave Stories

Read actual interviews with slaves, including a few who escaped on the Underground Railroad. These first-person accounts are selections from interviews with ex-slaves conducted in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Read excerpts from interviews with ex-slaves about: