The National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom (NTF) program and friends, will host its annual 2013 National Underground Railroad Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, June 19-22. The theme for this year's conference is The War for Freedom: The Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The conference will commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the 15th Anniversary of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Traditional notions long held that the Underground Railroad ended with the coming of the Civil War (1861-1865) and more specifically the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). However, this is not true, the struggle for freedom continued in the midst of the nation's unrest. As in the case of previous wars, the Civil War provided opportunities for freedom. Moreover, the Emancipation Proclamation freed only those enslaved people in areas that had seceded from the Union, so those enslaved in areas that were not in rebellion (i.e.Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia, and including parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia) would have continued to rely on the Underground Railroad. Even in those areas where freedom had been decreed by the proclamation, it was words rather than means. The enslaved still found it necessary to flee or join with the Union Army, either as soldiers or contrabands, in order to enjoy their newly acquired status.
The 2013 National Underground Conference will focus on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, exploring resistance to enslavement through escape and flight during this tumultuous period of the nation's history. As the battle over whether the nation should accept or abolish slavery waged on, people continued to fight against the institution of slavery. The Underground Railroad continued to play an important role, as shown by the continual enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act during the war. It was not until the 13th Amendment eliminated "slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime" that the need for the Underground Railroad ultimately ended.
The Conference Program Committee welcomes proposals from a wide variety of scholars, community researchers, site stewards, educators, and others interested in Underground Railroad history. Presentation topics can include but are not limited to:
Enslavement and Escape During the Civil War
Methods of Escape during the Civil War
Underground Railroad Activities as a precursor to the Civil War
History and Experience of Contraband Camps
Contraband Camps and Freedman's Colonies
Escaped Slaves in the Union Army
Former Freedom Seekers' Efforts during the Civil War
Union Use of Contraband Labor
Living Conditions, Health, and Mortality of Contraband
Aid and Education among Refugees
Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act during the Civil War
Images of Freedom during the Civil War (i.e. art and photography)
The Emancipation Proclamation and its Effects on the Underground Railroad
Civil War Re-Enactments as Commemoration and Education
Freedom Seekers in Indian Territories during the Civil War
Underground Railroad Operatives Serving in the military during the Civil War
Northern Underground Railroad Operatives extending activities into the south during the Civil War
Freedom Seekers who fought in the US Military during the Civil War
Attitudes towards Contrabands
Contrabands and Civil War Policy
Submission Procedure-MUST BE SUBMITTED ONLINE * DEADLINE JANUARY 31, 2013
Proposals can be submitted for (1) panels up to three individuals and a moderator on a particular theme or topic and (2) individual 20 minute presentations. Individual submissions that are accepted will be placed on a panel by the Program Committee. Proposals will be reviewed by the 2013 Conference Program Committee. Accepted proposals expect to receive notification by March 31, 2013.
Registration fee for presenters will be waived. Presenters are responsible for their own conference travel, lodging, transportation, and meals.
To submit a proposal, please visit: http://www.oah.org/nurc/. For more information, please visit: http://www.nps.gov/ugrr or contact Diane Miller, National Program Manager, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, firstname.lastname@example.org or Déanda Johnson, Midwest Regional Coordinator email@example.com.
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