rustic log cabin
The Search for Freedom

Online Exhibit
The Search for Freedom:

The History and Archaeology of Ramptown
and the
Michigan Underground Railroad

This on-line exhibit on the archaeology of the Underground Railroad in southwest Michigan highlights the work that researchers are conducting on the history of anti-racism in the region, dating back to the nineteenth century. The exhibit demonstrates the lessons that anti-racist organizers can learn from the past.

One of the most horrific institutions that perpetuated racism was slavery. Research on the Underground Railroad shows how people resisted captivity and the role that whites and people of color played in challenging slavery, often at great personal and economic risk. The exhibit provides historical examples of the ways in which people can bond together to seek justice and effect change.

Known only through oral histories, Ramptown referred to the people of African ancestry who defied their enslavers and escaped bondage in the American South to settle albeit temporarily alongside Quakers and free blacks in the agricultural fields surrounding Vandalia. The exhibit recounts stories, using images of artifacts and documents, to demonstrate that people worked across the color line to challenge the racialized hierarchy and laws that denied large segments of the population’s basic human rights.

The exhibit is supported by the Western Michigan University Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

This exhibit is available for loan free of charge to qualified organizations. For more information, please contact the Museum at museumstaff@kvcc.edu or (269) 373-7990.