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Carnegie Center for Art and History and SoIN Partners Commemorate
International Underground Railroad Month in September

What is International Underground Railroad Month?

International Underground Railroad Month acknowledges the significance of the Underground Railroad, and all those involved, for its contribution to the eradication of slavery in the United States and as a cornerstone for a more comprehensive civil rights movement that followed. It honors the inspiring efforts of the people from around the world who have committed themselves to document, interpret, and share with the public the Underground Railroad through the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Why Is the Underground Railroad Important to Southern Indiana?

The Ohio River was a critical crossing point between Kentucky, a state where slavery was legal, and Indiana, a free state. The stretch of water between Louisville and Floyd County, Indiana marks an important path of escape for Freedom Seekers along the Underground Railroad, an unofficial network of escape routes. Sometimes aided by both whites and free Blacks, those escaping enslavement through any act of resistance are part of the legacy of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad’s connection to Southern Indiana underpins the centuries-long battle for equality in the region and nation.

You Can Participate!

Several Southern Indiana organizations are offering opportunities to learn about the Underground Railroad in September with special programs and activities.

  • The Carnegie Center for Art and History and Howard Steamboat Museum, with assistance from the Belle of Louisville, have collaborated to offer FREE Art Kits for children. Learn about how kids traveled by steamboats during the age of the Underground Railroad. The kits include a pack of crayons and an educational coloring book that folds out into a color-it-yourself poster. Pick up beginning Saturday, September 12th at the Carnegie Center for Art and History or at the Howard Steamboat Museum, while supplies last.

    Graphite drawing made with various plaque rubbings made at the Town Clock Church, by Al Gorman

  • The Carnegie Center for Art and History’s new blogHere’s the Rub: Experiencing History Through Art” by Al Gorman features a lesson on historic site plaques, including those on the Underground Railroad, with project ideas for all ages. Pick up a FREE Rubbing Kit at the Carnegie Center for Art and History beginning September 12, while supplies last.
  • On September 11, listen to a new podcast about the inspiring life of Lucy Higgs Nichols, a Civil War nurse who escaped enslavement in Tennessee and settled in New Albany, read by Carnegie Center for Art and History Director, Dr. Eileen Yanoviak. This podcast is part of Thirty Days of Stories of the Underground Railroad in Kentucky, a podcast series by The Oldham County History Center on the Oldham Podcast Network. The series begins on September 1, releasing a new story each day of September. To access the stories, go to Spotify, Stitcher, or iTunes.
  • The Friends of Town Clock Church is encouraging visitors to the Underground Railroad Gardens behind the Town Clock Church at 300 East Main Street in New Albany to reflect on some of the history of the Underground Railroad in Floyd County. Also, the Friends group, in partnership with the Frazier History Museum is planning an outdoor, socially distanced event to include music, readings, and historical enactments on Friday evening, September 25th, 7PM. More information to follow.

    Town Clock Church

  • The Friends of Town Clock Church is recommending that anyone wanting to learn more about the historic engagement in the Underground Railroad of the free Black community and the 2nd Presbyterian Congregation, visit and view the videos on the site.
  • New Albany Churches and Faith based organizations are hosting a Unity Prayer Service in the parking lot across 300 Main Street with the façade of the historic Town Clock Church, the Second Baptist church as a backdrop. All are invited to this outdoor, socially distanced event at 6:30pm, Saturday, September 19th to pray as a diverse, unified group for social justice issues.
  • Go on a walking tour of historic sites of African American history in New Albany. Search for “New Albany: African American History” on the Discover Indiana app or visit Discover Indiana. New sites will be added throughout the month. Discover In is a project of the Public History Program at IUPUI, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, and the Indiana Historical Society. It uses the Omeka+Curatescape platform to distribute interpretive stories about the history, architecture, culture, and people of the state of Indiana on the web.

    Nurse Lucy Higgs Nichols, with Veterans of the Spanish-American War and Civil War, 1898

  • See the ongoing exhibitions at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad and Remembered: The Life of Lucy Higgs Nichols.

    Ed Hamilton, maquette for Spirit of Freedom, from the Collection of the Carnegie Center for Art and History

  • The Carnegie Center unveils a new acquisition of a sculpture by Louisville-based artist Ed Hamilton. The sculpture is a small-scale maquette of the Spirit of Freedom, the African American Civil War Soldier Memorial in Washington D.C.
  • The Floyd County Library is hosting several book discussions for Banned Books Week, September 27-October 3, 2020, including Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
  • Visit Underground Railroad Network to Freedom sites the Carnegie Center for Art and History and Second Baptist Church, also known as the Town Clock Church. Get your National Parks passport book stamped at the Carnegie Center.

For more information on these programs:



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