112 STAT. 678
PUBLIC LAW 105-203—JULY 21, 1998
Public Law 105-203
July 21, 1998
[H. R. 1635]
To establish within
the United States National Park Service the National
Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program, and for
Be it enacted by
the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled;
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the
“National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND
Congress finds the following:
Railroad, which flourished from the end of the 18th
century to the end of the Civil War, was one of the most
significant expressions of the American civil rights
movement during its evolution over more than three
(2) The Underground
Railroad bridged the divides of race, religion, sectional
differences, and nationality; spanned State lines and
international borders; and joined the American ideals of
liberty and freedom expressed in the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution to the extraordinary
actions of ordinary men and women working in common purpose
to free a people.
Pursuant to title
VI of Public Law 101-628 (16 U.S.C. 1a-5 note; 104 Stat.
4495), the Underground Railroad Advisory Committee conducted
a study of the appropriate means of establishing an enduring
national commemorative Underground Railroad program of
education, example, reflection, and reconciliation.
Underground Railroad Advisory Committee
found that –
(A) although a few elements of
the Underground Railroad story are represented in existing
National Park Service units and other sites, many sites are
in imminent danger of being lost or destroyed, and many
important resource types are not adequately represented and
(B) there are many important
sites which have high potential for preservation and visitor
use in 29 States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin
(C) no single site or route
completely reflects and characterizes the Underground
Railroad, since its story and associated resources involve
networks and regions of the country rather than individual
sites and trails; and
(D) establishment of a variety
of partnerships between the Federal Government and other
levels of government and the private sector would be most
appropriate for the protection and interpretation of the
National Park Service can play a vital role in facilitating
the national commemoration of the Underground Railroad.
(6) The story and
significance of the Underground Railroad can best engage the
American people through a national program of the National
Park Service that links historic buildings, structures, and
sites, routes, geographic areas, and corridors; interpretive
centers, museums, and institutions; and programs,
activities, community projects, exhibits, and multimedia
materials, in a manner that is both unified and
(b) PURPOSES.—The purposes of
this Act are the following:
(1)To recognize the importance
of the Underground Railroad, the sacrifices made by those
who used the Underground Railroad in search of freedom from
tyranny and oppression, and the sacrifices made by the
people who helped them.
(2) To authorize the National
Park Service to coordinate and facilitate
Federal and non-Federal activities to commemorate, honor,
the history of the Underground Railroad, its significance as
element in the evolution of the national civil rights
movement, and its
relevance in fostering the spirit of racial harmony and
3. NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NETWORK TO FREEDOM PROGRAM.
Secretary of the Interior (in this Act referred to as the
“Secretary”) shall establish in the National Park Service a
program to be known as the “National Underground Railroad
Network to Freedom” (in this Act referred to as the
“national network”). Under the program. The Secretary shall—
produce and disseminate
appropriate educational materials, such as handbooks, maps,
interpretive guides, or electronic information;
enter into appropriate
cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding to
provide technical assistance under subsection (c); and
create and adopt an
official, uniform symbol or device for the national network
and issue regulations for its use.
national network shall encompass the following elements:
and programs of the National Park Service determined by the
Secretary to pertain to the Underground Railroad.
(2) Other Federal,
State, local, and privately owned properties pertaining to
the Underground Railroad that have a verifiable connection
to the Underground Railroad and that are included on, or
determined by the Secretary to be eligible for inclusion on,
the National Register of Historic Places.
governmental and nongovernmental facilities and programs of
an educational, research, or interpretive nature that are
directly related to the Underground Railroad.
AGREEMENTS AND MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING.—
To achieve the purposes of this
Act and to ensure effective coordination of the Federal and
non-Federal elements of the national network referred to in
subsection (b) with National Park Service units and
programs, the Secretary may enter into cooperative
agreements and memoranda of understanding with, and provide
technical assistance to—
the heads of
other Federal agencies, States, localities, regional
governmental bodies, and private entities; and
with the Secretary of State, the governments of Canada,
Mexico, and any appropriate country in the Caribbean.
are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act not
more than $500,000 for each fiscal year. No amounts may be
appropriated for the purposes of this Act except to the
Secretary for carrying out the responsibilities of the
Secretary as set forth in section
Approved July 21, 1998
HOUSE REPORTS: No.
105-559 (Comm. on Energy and Natural Resources)
SENATE REPORTS: No.
105-217 accompanying S. 887 (Comm. on Energy and Natural
Vol. 144 (1998):
June 9, considered and passed House
June 25, considered and passed Senate.
The National Underground
Railroad Network to Freedom Act 1998
The Underground Railroad
Advisory Committee was invited to the White House for the
signing of P.L. 105-203 - The National Underground Railroad
Network to Freedom Act 1998. Dr. Charles L. Blockson, Chair,
received a signature pen from President Clinton at the
signing ceremony, July 21, 1998, Washington, D.C.
Charles L. Blockson, Dr. Thomas
Battle, Vivian Abdur-Rahim, Dr. John Fleming, Dr. Ancella
Bickley, Barbara Hudson, Glenette Tilley-Turner, Rose
Powhatan (Pamunkey), Dr. Robin Winks.
The signing of the landmark bill: The National
Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act 1998, (P.L.
105-203) spearheaded an active program of additional
Underground Railroad legislation and activities including