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West Virginia State Archives joins National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s West Virginia State Archives has been accepted as a member facility of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. The program was established by the National Park Service under the federal National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998, and seeks to preserve Underground Railroad sites and to commemorate and to educate the public about this aspect of 19th-century American history.
The Underground Railroad was a secret network of people, places and routes used by enslaved blacks to escape bondage in the United States. Although western Virginia was not a major slave-holding area, in 1860 more than 18,000 enslaved blacks lived in the counties that would later become West Virginia. Located across the Ohio River from the state of Ohio, and bordering on Pennsylvania, both free states, western Virginia served as a passageway for blacks fleeing from bondage in other slave-holding areas.

In becoming accepted as a member of the Network to Freedom Program, the West Virginia State Archives joins Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as the only members in West Virginia. “We’re pleased to be recognized as a facility on the Network to Freedom and look forward to serving as a connection with other network members in the region and to supporting the identification and recognition of other historic sites in West Virginia,” said Fredrick H. Armstrong, director of archives and history for the Division.

For more information, contact Armstrong or historian Mary Johnson, at (304) 558-0230.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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