Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad is divided into twelve chapters and is illustrated with reproductions of photographs, paintings, sketches, and documents. Facing the first page of the text is a map of the United States in 1860 depicting the routes that fugitive slaves took from the slave states in the South to the free states and to Canada in the North. Collectively, these routes became known as the Underground Railroad, replete with station masters, conductors, and passengers. Following the text is a time line that offers a chronology of highlights in the Underground Railroad’s history, beginning in 1518 with the arrival of the first African slaves in the West Indies and concluding in 1865 with the end of slavery with the victory of the Union troops in the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A bibliography and index follow this chronology.

The book offers a summary of social movements and legislative actions, from America’s colonial period until the Civil War, which led to the end of slavery. Jim Haskins intersperses this general history with accounts of individuals who escaped slavery, often quoting from their letters or diaries. The first organized attempts to help slaves escape to free territory were mounted about the time of the American Revolution. The first abolition society was formed in 1775 in Philadelphia. It follows that some of the earliest legislation passed in...

(The entire section is 516 words.)