Carlisle (WHTM) The House Divided Project at Dickinson College has just received some special recognition. The National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom has added the Dickinson College program to its list of more than 700 sites, facilities, and programs that bring to light the experiences of those who sought to escape slavery, and those who helped them.

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The House Divided Project explores stories of the American Civil War and efforts to end slavery, with an emphasis on the effects the “Peculiar institution”, as it was called, had on Dickinson College. As House Divided Director Matthew Pinsker explains, this recognition by the Park Service is the culmination of a long partnership.  

“We’re excited to join the prestigious Network to Freedom,” said House Divided Director Matthew Pinsker. “We began partnering with the National Park Service almost a decade ago,” explains Pinsker, “On various programs about the Underground Railroad and the resistance to slavery. In particular, we have worked hard to make this vital national story more accessible to K-12 and undergraduate classrooms. This recognition during the 25th anniversary of the Network to Freedom is the true culmination of years of contributions from dozens of Dickinson students, staff, and faculty.” 

“Each addition to the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom centers around a story of hope in the face of hostility and oppression,” said Diane Miller, the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program manager. “The Underground Railroad Network to Freedom continues to document and expand knowledge related to the Underground Railroad and increase public awareness of the struggle for freedom and equality endured by so many in our country’s history.” 

Starting in 2005, The House Divided Project focused on slavery and the Underground Railroad in the 19th century. They have a dedicated exhibition space on campus telling the story of freedom seekers and the enslaved. They also have workshops for K-12 teachers on slavery and the Underground Railroad.

In 2021 they unveiled a walking tour of the Dickinson College Campus, with markers detailing some of the ways people of the college responded to slavery, for good and ill.

House Divided faculty, students, and staff have partnered with the National Park Service and the Network to Freedom on digital projects and other initiatives.

Recently, the Project unveiled its Underground Railroad Online Handbook, a website providing an online companion to an upcoming National Park Service handbook on the Underground Railroad, including full-text access to the scholarly essays. Pinsker served as editor of the handbook. The Project is also expanding its website exploring so-called “slave stampedes”, large groups of Black freedom seekers moving together toward liberation. 

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom describes its mission this way:

“Honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, which continues to inspire people worldwide. The Network currently represents more than 700 locations in 39 states, plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps to advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression. “

To learn more about the House Divided Project, click here

To see the Underground Railroad Online Handbook, click here.

To read about “slave stampedes” click here.