Mission

Underground Railroad History Project researches and preserves the local and national history of the anti-slavery and Underground Railroad movements, their international connections, and their legacies to later struggles; it engages in public education and dialogue about these movements and their relevance to modern society.

What is the Underground Railroad?

The Underground Railroad was the movement that enslaved African Americans used to gain freedom in the 19th Century. The Capital Region of New York State was visited by thousands of fugitives seeking freedom in the years prior to the Civil War. URHPCR, Inc. seeks to acknowledge the active underground railroad movement in our region, to raise awareness about and stimulate interest in this little recognized and inspiring part of our history, to understand it in its historic context, to encourage the recognition of local historic figures and the activities in which they engaged, to preserve that history, and to relate that history with us today.

What is Underground Railroad History Project?

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc. (URHPCR) is a non-profit organization that seeks:

  1. To promote and encourage knowledge and understanding of the Underground Railroad Movement and its genesis and legacy in the Capital Region and in New York State, and as a significant element of the history of the United States;
  2. To acknowledge the participation in, cooperation among, and felicity between African- and other Americans in the Underground Railroad Movement;
  3. To promote and encourage historical research on the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region, in New York, and in the United States;
  4. To gather, preserve, display, and make available for study artifacts, relics, books, manuscripts, papers, photographs, and other records and materials relating to the history of the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region and New York State;
  5. To encourage the suitable marking of places of historic interest relating to the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region;
  6. To purchase, gift, devise, or otherwise acquire the title to or the custody of historic sites and structures relating to the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region, to preserve and maintain such sites and structures, and to interpret them for the benefit of the public; and
  7. To place the Underground Railroad movement in its proper context as the first civil rights movement, and as part of the ongoing struggle for equity, freedom, and justice.

Since its incorporation in 2003, this effort has created a strong program of education and research that celebrates and preserves the story of the Underground Railroad in Albany and the Capital Region and its relationship with us today.URHPCR has identified the key primary and secondary figures and their activities, and has developed a general outline of the local history of the movement.

We offer here research about local Underground Railroad figures and the local story. We ask you to help us in this work. If you would like to help us in the programs we do please get in touch with us. The story of the local Underground Railroad is compelling, dramatic, and something that can help us in the present day as we struggle with many of the issues that arose then and are still with us today. These are issues such as civil rights, voting rights, education in the community and for African Americans, self-determination, constitutional rights questions, and even international relations. If you know of such information that can help us as we research and document the UGRR in the Capital Region, please contact us!

Principles by Which We Interpret UGRR History

  1. Document Based
  2. Reality vs. Myth
  3. Public vs. Secret
  4. Movement, not Safe Houses
  5. African American Leadership
  6. Civil Disobedience
  7. Language and Public Memory
  8. Relevancy for Today

Who Are We?

 Paul and Mary Liz Stewart originally initiated this web site through a personal project in researching the Underground Railroad in the Capital Region. Since that beginning the Underground Railroad History Project was formed and has grown to what is represented here. We encourage you to make a contribution to the work we are doing, become a member, attend our programs, and help us move this research and discovery forward!

2017 URHPCR Board with Affiliations

           John Behan – Behan Planning and Design

Jennifer Burns – SUNY Albany

                  Yolanda Caldwell – Titus Enterprises, LLC

                        Matt Kirk – Hartgen Archaeological Associates

    Janine Moon – Albany Institute of History and Art

Ruth Kassel – Siena College

Ralph Pennington, Jr. – NYS Workers’ Compensation Board

Sharon Robinson – Russell Sage College

Zilka Saunders – Private Practice

Alexandra Sautin – Pioneer Bank

Darius Shahinfar – City of Albany

Paul Stewart – Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region

 Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard – Educational Consultant


Paul and Mary Liz Stewart – Co-founders


Executive Director: Mary Liz Stewart; Director of Programs: Thearse McCalmon

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