Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Burton, Lauren Elizabeth (2014). Evaluating the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program of the National Park Service. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Following the end of the Civil War, Americans used the legend of the Underground Railroad as evidence of the country’s morality before the abolishment of slavery. Using oral history, historians substantiated the common narrative of white abolitionists aiding fugitive slaves into the mid-twentieth century. With the Civil Rights Movement and the growth of social history, this narrative was re-evaluated. In 1995, a Special Resource Study for the National Park Service determined that the Underground Railroad was not being recognized or preserved adequately. Following the recommendations of the study, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 was passed. This thesis evaluates the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program through three cases studies, in order to determine if it is an effective model for commemorating and preserving non-traditional sites, like those of the Underground Railroad.


integrity, documentation, folklore, criteria, National Register



Date Posted: 03 September 2014