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The Underground Railroad in Ohio

Lesson Plan

Created by Nancy Dravenstott, Austin Kaufman, Tami Sprang

House of the Rev. John Rankin, Ripley, Ohio, c1898

Grade Level:


Estimated Duration of Lesson:

1-2 days

Standards & Indicators:

History/Historical Thinking & Skills #2: Use primary and secondary sources to answer questions about Ohio History.
History/Heritage #7: Sectional issues divided the United States after the War of 1812. Ohio played a key role in these issues, particularly with antislavery movement and the Underground Railroad.

Primary Sources Used: 

Hiding places in house, The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana Borderland, University of Louisville
Ohio’s Underground Trails by Wilbur H. Siebert (map): Ohio Memory
John Rankin home (photograph): National Park Service and photo by Ohio Memory 
Freedom Stairway (photograph): Ohio History Connection
Reuben Benedict home (photograph): National Park Service
Spring Hill (photograph): National Park Service 
Col. William Hubbard House (photograph): National Park Service 

Other Resources:

Video: Underground Railroad (TeacherTube video)
Powerpoint: Underground Railroad   (at OSU’s Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching page on Slideshare.net)

Lesson Summary:

Ohio served as the northern “trunk line” of the Underground Railroad, a system of secret routes used by free people in the North & South to help slaves escape to freedom. Escape routes developed throughout Ohio with safe houses where slaves could be concealed during the day. Many cities in Ohio today have houses that were once used by fugitive slaves heading north along the Underground Railroad.

Instructional Steps to Implement the Lesson:

Class Starter: Using the Underground Railroad power point, students will view photograph on typical hiding places found in a safe house and respond to provided questions. (preassessment)
Guided Lesson: Students will continue to view the Underground Railroad power point. Stops on the Underground Railroad will be located and highlighted on each student’s Ohio map.
Closing: Think-Pair-Share Strategy: Discuss first with a partner then the entire class, why the Underground Railroad was important in Ohio.

Post-Assessment and Scoring Guideline:

Students will answer the following question in a written response: "Explain the role Ohio played as a part of the Underground Railroad."
Scoring based on teacher expectations.

Materials Needed by Teacher:


Materials Needed by Students: