Illinois Underground Railroad
Illinois Underground Railroad

Bibliography -- dated, but useful

Larry A. McClellan      Compiled, 2008

Please note that an enormous amount of material has emerged since the compiling of this listing.  See, particularly, the endnotes in my books, Onward to Chicago:  Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois (2023) and The Underground Railroad South of Chicago (2019).


Books and Articles
Andreas, A. T. History of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Chicago:   A. T. Andreas, 1884. Vol. 1.
Bateman, Newton & Paul Selby, editors. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of   Kendall  County. Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co., 1914.
     Vol. I, “The Underground Railroad,” [in the state] pp. 532-537.
     Vol II, “Chapter XI, The Underground Railroad,” pp. 762-769
     [Published with History of McHenry County in 1903 and in other editions]
Bial, Raymond. The Underground Railroad. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Blazer, D. N. “The Underground Railroad of McDonough County, Illinois,” Journal of the  Illinois State Historical Society. vol. 15, (Oct., 1922-Jan., 1923).
Blockson, Charles L. Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad. New York:  Hippocrene Books, 1994.
________ The Underground Railroad. New York: Prentice-Hall Press, 1987.
_________ “Escape from Slavery, the Underground Railroad,” National Geographic.   vol. 166, no. 1 (July, 1984).
Bordewich, Fergus. Bound for Canaan, The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of  America. New York: HaperCollins, 2005. The most recent general history  of the UGRR
Breyfogle, William A. Make Free, the story of the Underground Railroad. Philadelphia:        Lippincott, 1958.
Bridges, Roger. “The Illinois Black Codes,” Illinois History Teacher. Volume 3:2, 1996.     Available at Illinois Periodicals online.
Brown, Hallie. Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. Freeport, NY: Free  Library Press, 1971. Reprint of 1926 edition.
Buckmaster, Henrietta. Let My People Go, the story of the underground railroad
      and the growth of the abolition movement. New York: Harper & Brothers,
      1941. Also pub. Boston: Beacon Press, 1968,

Carr, Clark. The Illini, A Story of the Prairies. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1912.   See especially chapters XIII, XIV, & XV.
Cha-Jua, Sundiata Keita. America’s First Black Town, Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-
     1914. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.
Cockrum, William. History of the Underground Railroad as it was conducted by the Anti- Slavery   League. Facsimile reprint of the 1915 edition. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1991.   Activity in Indiana, appears to have no recognition of ties to Illinois, but presents some  interesting understandings of UGRR activity.
Conger, John L. “Chapter XVIII, Part Three, The Underground Railway,” History of the  Illinois River Valley. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1932. Pp. 407-411.
Cooley, Verna. “Illinois and the Underground Railroad to Canada.” Transactions of the  Illinois State Historical Society XXIII (1917). Pp. 76-98
Currey, J. Seymour. “Chapter XX, Slavery Issues in Chicago,” Chicago: Its History and Its Builders. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. pp. 406-426
Curtis, Anna L. Stories of the Underground Railroad. Foreword by Rufus M. Jones, illustrated by  William Brooks. New York: The Island Workshop Press Co-op, 1941.

Dorsey, James. Up South, Blacks in Chicago’s Suburbs, 1719-1983. Bristol, Ind.:  Wyndam Hall Press, Inc., 1986.
Drake, St. Clair. Churches and Voluntary Associations in the Chicago Negro Community.      Report conducted under the auspices of the Works Projects Administration [WPA],     December, 1940. Typescript copy at the Harsch Collection, Chicago Public Library.
Drake, St. Clair and Horace Cayton. Black Metropolis, A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1945.
Drew, Benjamin. The Narratives of Fugitive Slaves. Facsimile reprint by Prospero Books of   Ontario, 2000. The original was The Refuge, or, The narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada, originally published: Boston: J. P. Jewett, 1856.   Several narratives include descriptions of experience in Illinois.

Farrison, William E. William Wells Brown, Author and Reformer. Chicago: University of Chicago  Press, 1969.
Foner, Philip & George Walker, eds. Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840 –  1865, Vol. II. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980.
            See “Proceedings of the Illinois Conventions.” Pp. 52-85.
Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf., 1947.
Franklin, John Hope, and Loren Schweninger. Runaway Slaves, Rebels on the Plantation. New  York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Gara, Larry. The Liberty Line; the legend of the underground railroad. Lexington:    University of Kentucky Press, 1961.
_________ “The Underground Railroad in Illinois,” Journal of Illinois State Historical Society.     vol.LVI, no. 3 (Autumn, !963).
_________ “A Glorious Time: The 1874 Abolitionist Reunion in Chicago,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. LXV, No. 3, Autumn, 1972.
Gliozzo, Charles A. “John Jones, A Study of a Black Chicagoan,” Illinois Historical Journal,  Vol. 80, (Autumn, 1987).
Grossman, James R., Ann D. Keating, and Janice L Reiff. The Encyclopedia of Chicago.   Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Hagedorn, Ann. Beyond the River, The Untold Story of the Heroes of the
     Underground Railroad. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Harris, N. Dwight. The History of Negro Servitude In Illinois and of the Slavery Agitation in that State, 1719-1864. Chicago, 1904. Reprint ed.: New York: Haskell House Pub., 1969.
Hendrick, George and Willene, eds. Fleeing for Freedom, Stories of the
     Underground Railroad as told by Levi Coffin and William Still. Chicago:
     Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2004.
Hill, Daniel G. The Freedom-Seekers, Blacks in Early Canada. Agincourt, Canada: The
     Book Society of Canada Limited, 1981.
Historic Illinois. “The Underground Railroad in Illinois Special Issue.” Vol.22,
     no. 6 (April, 2000) Published by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
            This includes Terry Ransom’s “Remembering the Flight to Freedom, The Underground Railroad in Illinois,” other articles, and a map of routes in the state as understood in 2000.
Historic Illinois. “Richard Eells, Quincy Abolitionist.” Vicent Gauthier & Janet Conover.  Vol. 13, No. 3, October, 1990. pp. 8 - 11

Ludwig, Charles. Levi Coffin and the Underground Railroad. Scottdale, PA:
     Herald Press, 1975.
Lusk, D. W. Eighty Years of Illinois, Politics and Politicians, Anecdotes and Incidents, 1809-1889. Springfield, Ill, 1889. Third Edition.

Mahoney, Olivia. “Black Abolitionists,” Chicago History, the Magazine of the Chicago Historical Society. Vol. XX, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Summer, 1991.
Marshall, Jonathan, “North to Freedom,” NorthShore, vol. 26, no. 6 (June, 2003).
Matson, N. “Chapter XII, Underground Railroad,” Reminiscences of Bureau County. Princeton: Republican Book and Job Office, 1872.
McClellan, Larry. The Underground Railroad South of Chicago, Notes and Sources.  Crete: South of Chicago, Inc. February, 2004.
_________ “The Underground Railroad South of Chicago,” paper and presentation
     at the 2005 Conference of the Illinois State Historical Society.
_________ “Chicago and the Underground Railroad,” paper and presentation
     at the 2007 Conference of the Illinois State Historical Society.
Miller, William Lee. Arguing About Slavery, The Great Battle in the United States  Congress. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
Mueller, Owen.  The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois.

Pierce, Bessie Louise. A History of Chicago, Volume I and II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937.
Pirtle, Carol. “Andrew Borders v. William Hayes: Indentured Servitude and the
     Underground Railroad in Illinois,” Illinois Historical Journal. Vol. 89, No. 3,    Autumn, 1996
_________ Escape Betwixt Two Suns, A True Tale of the Underground
     Railroad in Illinois. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists, New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Rajala, Hope. Black and White Together. [in Will County] Photocopy pamphlet. Joliet: Will County Historical Society, 2004. First pub. in 1970, reissued 2004 in memory of author.
Reed, Christopher Robert. Black Chicago’s First Century, Volume 1, 1833 – 1900.  Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005.
Reynolds, David. John Brown, Abolitionist. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
Ripley, C. Peter & others, Editors. The Black Abolitionist Papers, volume II, Canada,  1830 – 1865. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1986.
Robinson, L. E. History of Illinois. New York: American Book Company, 1909.
Ryan, J. H. “Chapter from the History of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, “Journal of  the Illinois State Historical Society. vol 8 (April, 1915), pp. 23-30

Saunders, Delores T. Illinois Liberty Lines (The History of the Underground Railroad).   Farmington, IL: printed by the Farmington Shopper, 1982.
Schmidt, Axel W.-O. Der Rothe Doktor von Chicago, . . Biographies des Dr. Ernst  Schmidt 1830 – 1900. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2003.
Schmidt., O. L. “Underground Railroad,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.  vol 18, no. 3 (October, 1925).
Shanley, Mary Kay. “Yes, we all shall be free when the Lord shall appear,” The Iowan. vol 53, no. 3 ( January-February, 2005), pp. 13 –21.   A good recent summary on places and events in Iowa prior to movement into Illinois.
Siebert, Wilbur Henry. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom. Mineola,  New York: Dover Publications, 2006. [reprinted from first edition of 1898].
         See also the reprint edition, New York: Arno Press, 1968.
Simmons, William J. Men of Mark, Eminent, Progressive and Rising. Chicago: Geo. H. Rewell & Co., 1887.
“Slavery in Chicago,” the Chicago Inter Ocean, June 28, 1891. An interview with L.  Freerer.
Smith, George Owen. The Lovejoy Shrine, The Lovejoy Station on the Underground Railroad. 3rd Ed. Tiskilwa, IL: Bureau County Chief, 1987. First edition pub. by Bureau County Tribune, Princeton, IL., 1949.
Sprague, Stuart S., ed. His Promised Land, the Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad. New York:
     W. W. Norton & Co., 1996.
Still, William. The Underground Railroad. Chicago: Johnson Pub. Co., 1970 [reprint of edition of 1871].

Talmadge, Marian and Iris Gilmore. Barney Ford: Black Baron. New York: Dodd & Co., 1973.
Travis, Dempsey J. An Autobiography of Black Politics, Volume 1. Chicago: Urban Research Press, 1987.
Tregillis, Helen. River Roads to Freedom, Fugitive Slave Notices and Sheriff Notices found in Illinois Sources. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1988.
Tobin, Jacqueline L. and Raymond G. Dobard. Hidden in Plain View, A Secret
     Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. New York: Random House
     Anchor Books, 1999.
Turner, Glennette Tilley. The Underground Railroad in DuPage county, Illinois. Wheaton,  IL: Newman Education Publishing, 1978.
_______. The Underground Railroad in Illinois. Glen Ellen, IL: Newman Education Publishing, 2001.

Walker, Juliet. Free Frank, A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983.
Windle, Helen H. The Underground Railroad in Northern Indiana, Based on Personal Narratives & Famous Incidents. South Bend: [self-pub?], 1939.
Woodruff, George, et. al. The History of Will County, Illinois. Chicago: Wm. Le Baron, Jr.  & Co., 1878. Reprint edition, 1973.

Zebina Eastman papers, Chicago Historical Society
John Jones papers, Chicago Historical Society
“The Negro in Illinois,” WPA Collection, Vivian G. Harsh Collection, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library of Chicago Public Library
Wilbur H. Siebert Collection (1840-1954) Microfilm Edition, 16 rolls published by the Ohio  Historical Center. [now available online]
Collections digitized and on websites for California State University, Pomona; Chicago  Historical Society; Colorado Historical Society; Encyclopedia of Chicago History; Iowa History Project; Newberry Library; University of Washington; Wisconsin Historical Society.

Bureau County Republican
Chicago Democrat
Chicago Journal
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Heights Star
Joliet Democrat
Joliet Herald News
Joliet Signal
Kankakee Journal
New York Times
Peoria Journal Star
Western Citizen
Wilmington Advocate

Selected Contemporary Newspaper Sources:

McKinnon, Jessica. “Local Site [Congregational Church] receives designation by National Park Service, “ Jacksonville Journal-Courier. Feb. 13, 2004
“’Underground Railroad’ Once Flourished Here in Joliet; Many Slaves Were
Assisted to Freedom,” Joliet Herald Evening News. June 3, 1936, Will County
Centennial Edition, p. 2 in “Transportation” section.
Kankakee: Kankakee Daily & Sunday Journal:
LaLonde, Roger. “Underground Railway Stations remain in Wilmington,” Sept. 27, 1967.
Weisenberger, Cora. “Underground Railroad, Wilmington Station,” April 5, 1998.
____________“Freedom by Moonlight, Underground Railroad stop found in
Crete,” Feb. 22, 2004.
Johnson, Vic: “On the other side of Jordan, bound for the Promised Land.”
Part One, February 17, 1991; Part Two, February 24, 1991; Part Three, March 3,  1991; Part Four, March 10, 1991
__________“Doctor finds romance on Underground Railroad,” May, 30, 1993.
__________“Freedman escapes man-stealers at courthouse,” June 6, 1993.
Graybill, Elaine. “The Underground Railroad, A Story of courage and Abolitionism
In Central Illinois,” The Pantagraph [Metamora]. Dec. 30, 1996, Section c, pp. 1-2.
James Foster. “Underground Railroad Made Many Area Stops,” Peoria Journal
Star. April 2, 1961, Section D, p. 9.
Dori Meinert. “Tracking Illinois’ Underground Railroad,” Peoria Journal Star.
David Silverberg. “’Underground’ routes crisscross North Central Illinois,” News
Tribune, July 7, 2001. p. A4. [Peoria or Decatur?? paper]
“Eye-Witness sheds further light on rescue of slave,” Bureau County Republican.
Feb. 22, 1923. p. 9.
Berfield, Karen. “Bureau County Ablitionists: John Howard Bryant,” Bureau County Republican. August 28, 1980.
[ In series of three: 2nd – Julian Bryant, Sept. 2; 3rd – Owen Lovejoy, Sept. 4.]
Barnes, Elma O. “Old Homes Hold Secrets of Slaves,” The Wilmington
Advocate. October 13, 1967.

Selected additional sources on the region south of Chicago:
Siewers, Alf. “Tracking the Underground Railroad,” Suburban Sun-Times [Calumet Region/South Cook County]. February 8, 1985.
McClellan, Larry. "Underground railroad leaves its tracks here in the South Suburbs,” The Star. February 25, 1996, p. 4.
Petraitus, Paul. “UGRR in the Chicago/Calumet Area: A Brief History,” and
with Marion Kelliher, “Timeline,” Chicago/Calumet Underground Railroad Effort
(C/C.U.R.E.). Printed for Conference in September, 2002.
Jervis, Rick. “Uncovering Illinois link to slaves’ liberty road, Chicago Tribune. January 4, 2004, Section 4, pp. 1, 4.
McClellan, Larry. The Underground Railroad South of Chicago, Notes and Sources.  Crete: South of Chicago, Inc. February, 2004.
Golz, Jennifer. “Road to Freedom,” The Star. June 26, 2005. pp. 1, 11.