Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vermont Underground Railroad subject of discussion


On Wednesday January 23, 2008, at 7:00 PM, Brooks Memorial Library will host Norwich University history professor Ray Zirblis who will speak on FRIENDS OF FREEDOM: VERMONT AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. The talk will take place in the library’s meeting room.

The Underground Railroad is a shadowy direct-action movement that helped fugitive slaves to escape to Canada before the Civil War. Fugitives were passed from safe-house to safe-house, often sheltered and transported in secret. Little is known today about the "Underground" in the Green Mountains. Who were the fugitives? What motivated Vermonters to aid them? Why did others riot against the anti-slavery movement? This talk explores fact and folklore through letters and other documents that let participants of this stirring time speak for themselves.

A member of the Center for Research on Vermont, Ray Zirblis received an M.S. in history and historic preservation, at the University of Vermont in 1986. He worked as a field historian for the state in the 1980s, and edited The Green Mountaineer, the Vermont Historical Society's magazine for children 1989-93. He is the author of the 1996 study Friends of Freedom: The Vermont Underground Railroad Survey Report, considered a model for state UR research by the National Park Service. Zirblis has presented widely on the Vermont abolition movement and the lives of Black Vermonters in the colonial and ante-bellum periods. He lives with his wife in Northfield, Vermont.


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