Education Mission

The New-York Historical Society Education Division provides dynamic programming and curriculum resources for students and teachers in New York and beyond. Historical study sparks curiosity and creativity, promotes cultural understanding, and fosters an empowered citizenry to strengthen our democracy. Our staff of passionate professionals draws on our world-renowned collections to engage learners of all ages in the study of our collective past.


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Education programs are made possible through endowments established by
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Hearst Foundations
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation
Public funds are provided by
Institute of Museum and Library Services
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature

Education programs at New-York Historical receive generous support from
The Achelis and Bodman Foundation
The Edith and Frances Mulhall Achilles Memorial Fund
Acorn Hill Foundation
Altman Foundation
Barker Welfare Foundation
Best Buy
Maggie & Robert Boroujerdi
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Con Edison
Deutsche Bank
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Mark and Lori Fife
Henry Nias Foundation
Alan Shuch and Leslie Himmel
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
Keith Haring Foundation
Susan and Robert E. Klein
Caroline Lowndes Foundation
Ann Lozman
Dan W. Lufkin
Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
The Michael Tuch Foundation
Sandra and Lowell Mintz
Consulate General of the Netherlands
New York Community Trust
Onassis Foundation USA
Heidi and Richard Ong
Pine Tree Foundation of New York
The Pinkerton Foundation
Jean Reid
Denice Rein
Richard Reiss
Rice Family Foundation
Sara Lee Schupf
The Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts
Robie Spector
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Gillian V. and Robert Steel
Thompson Family Foundation
Tiger Baron Foundation
The Waterfall Family Foundation
Rachael Wells 
Winston Foundation
Marie and John Zimmermann Fund


Help us present groundbreaking exhibitions and develop educational programs about our nation's history for more than 200,000 schoolchildren annually.


Run for Your Life

Since 2004, the New-York Historical Society has presented a series of exhibitions that explore the idea of freedom, emphasizing the history of slavery, resistance, abolition and the Underground Railroad. These major exhibitions have been complemented with an array of public programs, educational programs, websites and cell phone/iPod tours of sources and sites relating to New York’s role in the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movement. The New-York Historical Society was one of the very first institutions collecting during the height of the Underground Railroad movement from the 1830s to 1860s, an effort that began even earlier in the aftermath of the American Revolution with the founding of the Manumission Society. Following is a list of resources that you can access throughout the New-York Historical Society website.

The Run for Your Life Project of recent and current exhibitions, tours, programs and educational activities
was developed with grant funds from the
 U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program.




The New-York Historical Society has collections dating to the Dutch era which offer insight into slavery, its opponents and the stories of those who escaped from bondage. Artifacts include documents from the trial of a slave uprising in 1712; merchant accounts about the slave trade; letters from victims of the anti-slavery rioters in 1834; thousands of abolitionist pamphlets; broadsides and journalism from the black press and the Committee of Vigilance, which helped such notable freedom seekers as Frederick Douglass; and the papers of the New York Manumission Society which detail the long, slow struggle to end slavery in New York and to supply the free black community with schools and skills. Paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and photographs also document African American history relating to slavery, abolition and resistance, providing a rich context for the study of escaping slaves and the Underground Railroad.


Library Research Guides

Audio and Visual Tours


Exhibitions and Websites


Educational Programs

Professional Development for Teachers
The education department offers a variety of professional development programs for teachers and administrators, ranging in length from afternoon workshops to week-long sessions. Many of these programs address the history of the Underground Railroad and provide context for understanding the organization and the social and political issues that challenged it.

Click here for more information about our current offerings.

School Group Tours

Students take on the role of historians in workshops related to the Underground Railroad based on our permanent collections and special exhibitions. Take a field trip to the museum, or bring the museum to your classroom through an outreach program.

Programs include:

  • The Underground Railroad
  • History of Slavery in New York from Colonization to Emancipation
  • History of the African American Experience in New York: 1827–1865

Click here for more information about special exhibition-related student workshops.

American Musicals Project

Three units of the New-York Historical Society’s unique American Musicals Project curriculum tie together the Revolutionary period with the Underground Railroad.

Click here for more information.


Curriculum Guides

For downloadable curriculum guides from Slavery in New York, New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War please visit:


Public Programs

Podcasts from past public programs include:

  • Frederick Douglass, Lincoln and the Civil War with David Blight, Harold
  • Holzer, James O. Horton, and Charles Turner (December 4, 2006)
  • The March: An Evening with E.L. Doctorow (January 25, 2007)
  • On the Shoulders of Giants with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Howard Dodson

(January 29, 2007)

Click here to download the public programs podcasts from iTunes U


Links to Underground Railroad Related Sites


Creative: Tronvig Group