Register Now! Sailing for Freedom Book Talk, May 10!

Megan Jeffreys's picture
May 10, 2021
United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Maritime History / Studies, Slavery

You Are Invited!

Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad

A Virtual Book Talk with Timothy D. Walker, Mirelle Luecke, and Megan Jeffreys

Followed by a Q & A moderated by Professor Edward Baptist

Monday, May 10, 2021, at 5:00 pm EDT

Register at

Email with any questions for the Q&A.

Registered participants will receive the event link and a promo code to buy the book at a 30% discount and free shipping from UMASS Press.


As conversations about race, criminality, and policing permeate news coverages, understanding its deep roots and embedded origins becomes even more necessary. Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad engages in this conversation, illuminating new aspects of enslavement, resistance, and policy. While previous scholarship on the Underground Railroad has focused almost exclusively on overland escape routes from the antebellum South, this groundbreaking volume expands our understanding of how freedom was achieved by sea and what the journey looked like for many African Americans.  

Please join us for a book talk with Timothy Walker and two of the volume contributors: Mirelle Luecke and Megan Jeffreys. The talk will be followed by a Question-and-Answer period moderated by Professor Edward Baptist.  The panel will highlight little-known stories and describe the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad, including the impact of African Americans’ paid and unpaid waterfront labor. The authors will discuss the ten essays that reconsider and contextualize how escapes were managed along the East Coast, moving from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland to safe harbor in northern cities.


Timothy Walker is a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He is a scholar of maritime history, colonial overseas expansion, and trans-oceanic slave trading. Walker is a guest investigator of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a contributing faculty member of the Munson Institute of Maritime Studies, and the Director of the NEH “Landmarks in American History” workshop series, titled “Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad” (2011-2021). He is also the author of Doctors, Folk Medicine and the Inquisition: The Repression of Magical Healing in Portugal during the Enlightenment.

Mirelle Luecke is the Humanities Curator at the Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City, Missouri, where she develops exhibitions for NEH On the Road. She holds a Ph.D. in the United States and Atlantic history from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on the overlapping spheres of maritime and landed labor, exploring the ways that the maritime world influenced the social lives of working people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her dissertation project (University of Pittsburgh, 2018) is entitled Topsail Alley: Labor Networks and Social Conflict on the New York Waterfront in the Age of Revolution.

Megan Jeffreys is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at Cornell University and is currently working as a Research Assistant for Freedom on the Move (FOTM) and its connected projects. Her research focuses on self-liberation and fugitivity in Virginia, using runaway slave advertisements to understand the lives and experiences of enslaved individuals and the communities that surround them. 

Sponsored by the Department of History/Graduate Program at Cornell University.



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