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Ohio History Connection Offers Free Admission To Wilbur H. Siebert Collection

In celebration of the heroes of the Underground Railroad, the Ohio History Connection will provide free access to the internationally-acclaimed Wilbur H. Siebert collection throughout February for Black History Month. The digital collection includes historical correspondence of Underground Railroad participants; photographs of agents and former slaves; and maps of Underground Railroad routes. This online collection normally requires a standard subscription fee; but will be open for access throughout the month of February. Simply perform a search using the search bar at the top of the page, or click the "Browse all" option in the menu bar to get started!

"The stories of the Underground Railroad, as reflected in Siebert collection, are unique to Ohio's history and are an integral part of the national African American experience," said Jillian Carney, manager of Digital Services. "We are pleased to provide free access to this fascinating collection and share additional insight into this network to freedom."

The items in the collection were compiled by Wilbur H. Siebert, a former history professor at The Ohio State University from 1891-1935. His original papers have been held by the Ohio History Connection's Archives/Library since 1946. Throughout the month of February, the public can view the over 5,000 items in the collection, with the ability to search the full text of documents; page through multiple-page documents; and zoom in to view documents and images more closely.

Among the many fascinating items in the collection are transcripts of letters by well-known abolitionists such as Harper's Ferry abolitionist and activist John Brown and Ripley, Ohio's famous Underground Railroad conductor John Rankin; a letter Siebert received from famous former slave Frederick Douglass; and, other documents that show the large role Ohioans played in the abolitionist movement.

Throughout the month of February, the public can view the nearly 5,000 Ohio-related items from the Siebert Collection through Ohio Memory, without a subscription. In addition to unlimited access throughout Black History Month, the online collection gives researchers the ability to search the full text of documents; page through multiple-page documents; and zoom in to view documents more closely.


The Siebert Collection will be free to search during the entire month of February! If you wish to continue access to the collection after February, please contact


About the Collection

Underground railroad map

The Wilbur H. Siebert Collection contains correspondence, notes, manuscripts, student papers, maps, and photographs related to the Underground Railroad. Research material includes the responses generated by his seven-question survey and copies and notes from a wide variety of sources: books; diaries; letters; photographs; newspaper articles; biographies and memoirs; state, county, and local histories; annual reports; trial records; U.S. and Canadian census reports; legislation; and Congressional speeches. Siebert also conducted interviews with Underground Railroad agents and former fugitive slaves. He organized his research by state and county, eventually binding his notes in volumes according to the location of the Underground Railroad station or activity. The collection contains bound and unbound volumes of Siebert's research.

Over 5,000 items from the collection are digitized here. This material represents all of the Ohio items in the collection. Materials related to other states are available on microfilm. The collection can be accessed in several ways:

Subscriptions to the Ohio History Connection's Siebert Collection support the collection digitally and physically, as well as improve access to the organization's extensive archive collections and library services.

Organizations or individuals interested in access to the collection should contact the Ohio History Connection with further questions or for subscription information (including pricing) at Discount pricing is available for Ohio History Connection members.

For more information about the collection, please consult the finding aid.

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