With 664 miles of the Ohio River separating free soil from slave soil, the area provided the greatest opportunity for slave escapes. Author Nancy Stearns Theiss will discuss Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad movement, which is the subject of her new book A TOUR ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD ALONG THE OHIO RIVER (The History Press, 2020). This lecture and conversation is free and will be held via Zoom meeting.

Running for 664 miles along Kentucky’s border, the Ohio River provided a remarkable opportunity for the enslaved to escape to free soil in Indiana and Ohio. The river beckoned fugitive slave Henry Bibb onto a steamboat at Madison, Indiana, headed to Cincinnati, where he discovered the Underground Railroad. Upriver from Cincinnati, a lantern signal high on a hill from the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio, stirred others to flee for freedom. These stories and more along the borderland of the Ohio River also served as the setting for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which became an inspiration of human resistance. Author Nancy Theiss, PhD, takes readers on a tour through American history to places of courage and sacrifice.

Join us for the Ohio Book Talks free lecture and conversation held on Zoom on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Don’t forget to register for the book discussion and order your signed book!

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Ohio Book Talks free lecture and conversation will be held on Zoom.

Don’t forget to register for the book discussion and order your signed book!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
6:30-7:30 PM
How was Ohio Crucial to the Underground Railroad?
with author Nancy Stearns-Theiss

Ohio Book Talks is a new series of author-led discussions of new books covering different periods in Ohio history. Each program will be held online via Zoom meeting and will feature a short lecture from the author followed by a discussion and Q&A with the audience. Programs are presented by Buckeye Book Fair with the support of Ohio Humanities.




Watch again later on our YouTube channel

Additional Content:

Thirty Days of Stories on the Underground Railroad in Kentucky

From the Oldham County Historical Society

Discussion Questions

Download discussion guide

1. Cincinnati was a popular firs stop because of the free Blacks living there, close to the shipping ports. Where else did the Underground Railroad lead?

2. What were some of the obstacles runaway slaves faced in their journey to freedom?

3. What are some common misconceptions about the Underground Railroad?

4.Several hundred narratives were written by enslaved people leading up to the Civil War that document their places of journey, such as Josian Henson, Henry Bibb, Harriet Beecher Stowe. How did these stories help in our understanding of how the Underground Railroad operated?

5. How does the National Park Service define the Underground Railroad?

6. Who can be credited for starting the Underground Railroad movement?