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Slave Life and the Underground Railroad

During the 1800s, over 100,000 slaves in America sought freedom by running away from their owners.  A slave who tried to escape risked punishment, capture and return to slavery, or even death for their escape attempt. These brave Black Americans followed secret routes known as the Underground Railroad as they traveled north toward Free states and Canada or south to Mexico.  Like the escaping slaves, they too faced great danger but continued to help because they believed slavery was wrong. Learn more »

All Aboard the Train!

Railroads have moved people and cargo around America for more than 180 years. Explore steam locomotives with the read-aloud book Jingle the Brass and related activities including field trip suggestions, a video of the world’s oldest operable locomotive, and ideas for enjoying railroad lingo at play. Hop aboard »

Full Steam to Freedom

Explore the story of the Civil War through the eyes of Robert Smalls, who was born in South Carolina as a slave and became one of the early African Americans to serve in the U.S. Congress. Find out more about his daring escape from slavery. Read more »

A Puerto Rican Carnival

Celebrate Carnival! Each year before the start of Lent, a time of fasting, many communities throw a big party to hold them over until Easter, known as Carnival.  Read this fun story about Ramón, a boy who wants to join his city’s Carnival celebration. Explore Puerto Rican culture with Lulu Delacre’s Vejigante Masquerader and fun family activities connected to the book and the National Museum of American History’s collection of Carnival masks! Celebrate »

More Books About African Americans

February is African American heritage month! OurStory’s Find Books tab includes 92 recommended books about African American history. Whether you’re looking for a book for your kindergartener, middle schooler, or for your own reading, check out the search results for “African American History.” Find books »

Smithsonian's History Explorer