Upper Bay’s Underground Railroad in Word & Song

We hear a lot about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad’s presence on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, but there is more to discover about the key role the upper Chesapeake Bay played in that part of history.

That’s why the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum is honing in on slaves’ road to freedom with a research project and a permanent museum exhibit it plans to open this spring.

The maritime museum will kick off this new focus with a lecture series on the Underground Railroad titled “Other Voices of Freedom.” The lectures will focus on the upper Bay and lower Susquehanna region, and begin this Saturday, Jan. 25.

Diana Harris, a Public History major at Harford Community College who is interning at the museum, will speak on “the songs of freedom and redemption from the era of American slavery,” as well as songs about the Underground Railroad and stretching all the way to the 20th-century Civil Rights Movement. Through word and song, Harris will teach about “coding,” pathways to freedom, and abolitionism.

The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum has just received grants from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, the Joseph Robert Foundation and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board to research the Underground Railroad in Harford and Cecil Counties and up the Susquehanna River to Wrightsville, Pennsylvania.

The permanent, interactive exhibit the maritime museum is working on will look at the roles played by waterways on the Underground Railroad. The museum points out that “waterways provided a means of transport by boat on both the Chesapeake Bay and by ferry across the Susquehanna River.”

The exhibit is expected to open in April or May.

-Meg Walburn Viviano