Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City

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This book has an interesting genesis. I didn’t intend to write it, but I discovered that the Sidney Howard Gay notebooks recording his aid to fugitive slaves from 1855-to-1856 were at Columbia University. They were referenced in a study by one of my contributors to Places of the Underground Railroad, Kathryn Grover. I contacted her as to what was in them, but she only had a vague recollection. My suspicion was that the notebooks could be goldmine of information, like Abel Brown’s memoir. I had them copied and mailed to me, and my suspicion was right. About the same time, a grad assistant of noted American antebellum scholar Eric Foner also discovered their significance.

To make a long story short, Foner as well as Don Papson and I wrote our own books about the notebooks, Foner’s coming out shortly before ours. Ours has the verbatim transliteration of the notebooks amd appendices tracing the journeys of the more than 254 fugitives aided by Gay and Louis Napoleon as well as several excellent maps of the Underground Railroad around NYC and the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

“This book is a must-have for researchers, genealogists, students, teachers, and general readers interested in this dramatic period in our nation’s history!” ― Kate Larson, author of Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.

See Tom's Other Eight Books for More Information


Tom’s collaboration with author and historian Don Papson describing the UGRR work of Sidney Howard Gay and Louis Napoleon

  • Some locations in NYC that aided fugitive slaves
  • Suspension Bridge near Niagara Falls over which Harriet Tubman took fugitive slaves to freedom