Sailing to Freedom

Sailing to Freedom

The Underground Railroad was not limited to land, but included a network of maritime routes along the Atlantic seaboard. This groundbreaking exhibit uncovers the incredible stories of those who sought freedom by sea, shedding light on the maritime routes that played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad, including the waters around Martha’s Vineyard. Based on research by Dr. Timothy Walker and a previous exhibit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Sailing to Freedom broadens our understanding of the daring escapes by sea that were instrumental in the quest for liberation.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Lee Blake of the New Bedford Historical Society, whose idea began this project, and the work of Michael Dyer of the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Dr. Timothy Walker of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, who co-curated the original exhibit on this topic, displayed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2022.

Major funding for the development of the traveling exhibit was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities through a National Writing Project “More Perfect Union” grant and the New Bedford Historical Society. Additional funding was provided by UMass Dartmouth Provost Office, NPS New Bedford Whaling NHP, BayCoast Bank Foundation, Southcoast Health Foundation, and the Law Firm of Lang, Xifaras, and Bullard.

The Museum also acknowledges the work of the contributing authors of Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimension of the Underground Railroad (2021), edited by Dr. Timothy Walker, on which this exhibit is based and without whose research it would not have been possible. Additional research for the traveling exhibition was provided by Daphne Jonsson, Megan Jeffreys, Shawn Quigley, Kate Blackmer, Jonathan Schroeder, Lee Blake, and Carl J. Cruz. 


Subtitle Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad
From June 9, 2024
To September 22, 2024
Location The Grain Family Gallery
Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.