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The Underground Railroad & Civil WarThe Underground Railroad & Civil War

Before the Civil War, many Michigan citizens helped slaves escape from the South, via the Underground Railroad, a secret, often informal, organization of safe hiding places and people willing to provide transportation between them. Loyal to the Union, Michigan responded quickly to the call to action in 1861 when the Civil War began. Ninety thousand men, 85,000 of them volunteers, served. Almost 15,000 of them lost their lives. At home, civilians mined copper and iron, produced food and cut timber to support the war effort.

These lessons are designed for 5th-12th grade classes but can be adapted to fit other grades.
Abolition Plays
“The Dead Drummer Boy” Poetry Analysis
Fugitive Slaves in Michigan’s History (HS)

The Mitten and Michigan History for Kids (MHK) are supplemental reading materials to help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts within this unit. Michigan History for Kids is appropriate for a 3rd grade level, and The Mitten is appropriate for a 4th grade level.

MHK Michigan Soldiers
MHK MI at Gettysburg
MHK Women in the Civil War
MHK Underground RR
MHK Defending Fugitive Slaves


Michigan History Magazine (MHM) articles are for advanced readers.
MHM Crosswhites
MHM Blackburns
Underground railroad map