United States History

Reporting the Underground Railroad


In this assignment, you will learn more about the experiences of escaping slaves. Then you will pretend that you are a journalist living in 1848, writing for fictional newspaper, the Billings Evening Star.

Your assignment is to write an article about one or more slaves who have escaped and made their way north to freedom.


Step 1

Visit these websites to get background information for your article.

Aboard the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

American Visionaries: Frederick Douglass

Ads for Runaway Slaves

Step 2

Use the information you gathered in Step 1 to write your article. You can write an article about how many slaves used the Underground Railroad to escape or you can pretend to interview and report on one slave’s story, in particular.

Remember that a news story gives readers the facts by answering such questions as who, what, when, where, why and how. Be sure to answer these questions in your article. For example, you can write about such things as:

      From where the slave(s) escaped

      What life was like as a slave?

      Why the slave(s) decided to escape

      How freedom has changed the slave’s life

      What the former slave(s) are doing now

Don’t use any former slaves names in your article, in order to protect them from a plantation owner who may still be searching for them. Remember, your article can reveal interesting and important details, without revealing the true identities of former slaves.

Step 3

When your article is complete, check it for spelling and punctuation errors. Make all the necessary corrections.

Step 4

Add a headline, or title to your article. The headline should summarize, in just a few words, the main idea of the article, and it should grab the reader’s attention.

Example headlines: Four Slaves Risk Their Lives For Freedom or Former Slave Tells His Story.