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Professional Development

Kentucky’s Underground Railroad

Exploring the quest for freedom by enslaved African Americans
Grade Levels:
30 minutes
Taping Rights:
Teaching Materials:
See Below
Program Schedule:
See Below

A four-part KET professional development series designed to give teachers a deeper understanding of Kentucky history before the Civil War and the quest for freedom of enslaved African Americans. In each 30-minute program, a noted scholar leads teachers to a deeper understanding of this topic and its relationship to Kentucky’s Core Content in four areas: Kentucky history, Kentucky geography, culture and society, and arts and humanities. Extensions for further inquiry tied directly to the Core Content are provided for each program, and Kentucky social studies teachers model extensive use of technology.

These seminars are designed to complement and enhance classroom use of the 60-minute KET documentary Kentucky’s Underground Railroad—Passage to Freedom.

Length: 4 programs; 30 minutes each
Audience: social studies and history teachers, intermediate and secondary levels


  1. The Underground Railroad in Kentucky—a historical overview of the issues, people, and places that were important during the fugitive slave movement in Kentucky. Extensions: genealogical and community research, historic preservation, sociocultural and economic roots of the slave trade.

  2. The Impact of Kentucky Geography in the Flight for Freedom—a discussion of Kentucky’s physical environment and how rivers, caves, and mountains both challenged and aided fugitive slaves. Extensions: mental map making, physical map reading and making, using objects in the sky and geographic markers for directional assistance, routes to freedom going both south and north.

  3. Freedom: A Basic Need—a discussion of the human desire for freedom and the continuity among the fugitive slave movement, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the contemporary struggle for human rights worldwide. Extensions: human struggle as told through stories of family separation, cultural conflict, and societal upheaval; social and cultural adaptations to meet human needs; cross-cultural compromise and cooperation for positive interaction and conflict resolution.

  4. Artistic Expression and the Fugitive Slave Movement—an exploration of literature, art, music, and crafts that provide primary and secondary resources for teaching the story of the fugitive slave movement. Extensions: creating, performing, and responding to artistic expressions of personal sacrifice and human struggle.

Teaching Materials

PDF format
KET Online
KET Professional Development
(800) 432-0951
600 Cooper Drive
Lexington, KY 40502-2296

Kentucky schools may tape and retain programs according to the rights listed above. For further information, contact the KET Education Division.

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Last Updated: Friday, 10-Aug-2012 03:19:10 Eastern Daylight Time