HARRIET TUBMAN.COM » Home » Freedom Tour » Memoriam » Photo Gallery » Contact Us








» Heritage Production Co.


 » Senator Hillary Clinton
»  Harriet Tubman's
    Civil War
 » Camden MEETING HOUSE   




»  KOSTMAYER - H.R. 3863



Picture courtesy of Cayuga Museum
(Click picture to enlarge)

Harriet Tubman
"The Conductor"
By Carl A. Pierce
(click picture to enlarge)


Underground Railroad Advisory Committee

Second Meeting

Buffalo, New York

  July 16, 1993 

The second official Underground Railroad Advisory Committee (URAC) meeting was held on July 16, 1993 at the Buffalo Hilton Hotel, in Buffalo, N.Y.  The Advisory Board Chairperson, Mr. Charles Blockson, called the meeting to order at 10:30 A.M.  Committee members attending this session included: Ms. Rose Powhatan, Ms. Vivian Abdur-Rahim, Mr. Charles Blockson, Dr. Ancella R. Bixley, and Ms. Glenette Tilley-Turner. NPS participants included: Mr. John Paige, Mr. James Charleton, Ms. Barbara Tagger, Mr. Vincent deForest, Ms. Karen Arey, Ms. Tamara L. Felton, and Mr. Steve Elkinton (who was scheduled to give a presentation). There were no participants from the general public attending the meeting. The first order of business was a review of the minutes (Philadelphia, March 31, 1993). After some discussion of changes to, and clarification of the minutes, Mr. Blockson moved that the meeting progress as scheduled, and Mr. Paige suggested that further comments regarding the minutes be given to Ms. Powhatan (Secretary)—to be later forwarded to Ms. Felton for changes.  The motion was passed that the minutes from the Philadelphia URAC meeting be adopted “per changes submitted by the URAC” during this committee meeting. 

The next order of business on the agenda (attached) was temporarily postponed. Questions from committee members regarding Dr. Robin Winks’ involvement with the Underground Railroad (UR) study were raised. Many were concerned with his ability to participate in future meetings and events, but agreed that he too was a victim of circumstances. 

Mr. Paige opened the floor for discussion of the National Historic Landmark (NHL) study process—motivating questions pertaining to funding and non-National Park Service (NPS) sites. Dr. Bickley asked that the process for identifying and researching sites (not in the NPS) be explained, and that those sites be given as much attention as those already existing under NPS policy.  Mr. Charleton expressed that this was a concern of the NPS as well—stating that funding and time allowed Ms. Tagger only nine trips to sites, and that these NPS sites were priority because they were already proven acceptable according to NHL standards (for reasons other than the UR, but to which the UR study may still apply). He suggested that the committee’s participation in researching sites from their respective areas would benefit the program, expedite time, and defray costs to the project. Mr. deForest advised that anyone visiting sites contact the State Historic Preservation Office in the area. Although many of these organizations may appear uninterested, Mr. Charleton suggested that their ambivalence may be motivated more-or-less by the fact that they “just don’t know” the significance of particular properties and/or sites.  Dr. Bickley reiterated her concerns about the field-work process as it relates to non-NPS sites—sites (perhaps) identified on the basis or oral history alone. As the budget is established, she stated, is it possible to allocate more funds to staff (and particularly the URAC) to uncover these sites? Although that may not be likely, any member (according to Mr. Paige) accompanying NPS staff to sites can be funded (like travel for meetings), if funding allows. 

Mr. Charleton distributed information, further explaining the NHL program and the NR, and gave more examples of why they’ve decided to research particular sites. 

Mr. Blockson presented an article (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 1993) which stated that a 93 million dollar figure had been recommended the NPS to commemorate the Civil War. (Clarification: This figure was recommended by a NPS advisory committee on the Civil War and not the NPS.)  Money is a concern of his due to this fact and other examples, where monies were not evenly distributed among projects which involved African-Americans. Ms. Abdur-Rahim stated that someone should have been present to request the necessary funding for this project. Nonetheless, Dr. Bickley expressed the need to diversify the project in the future, and for the committee to explore as many ways possible for commemorating the UR—placing faith in the efforts of the committee (and not entirely in the government). Mr. Paige agreed with this evaluation—stating that his (and the NPS’s) primary objective for the study was centered around completing the requirements listed in the legislation. Because the goals of the URAC and the NPS study team slightly differed (in order of priorities), he suggested URAC take independent action on any number of things—like advocating additional funding to move the project along as they see fit. 

Mr. Blockosn, in particular, felt that this route would be taking advantage of the committee members’ intellectual property—property that would be benefited from, but not adequately compensated. However, to Mr. deForest’s knowledge committee members do not receive financial reward for study work or the knowledge rendered during the study. Travel expenses for meetings and to review sites can be paid. Dr. Bickley questioned if it were possible to switch Mr. Blockson from the Advisory Board Committee Chairperson role, to the role of consultant—so that he might be paid for his intellectual property. Mr. Paige stated that he would look into this proposal and report the findings to the committee at a later date. 

Ms. Tilley-Turner requested time be dedicated to discussing the Briefing Statement (sent to the URAC via fax or mail on July 2, 1993 again distributed in the URAC packets at Buffalo, July 17, 1993 [attached]. 

Mr. Elkinton, Long Distance Trails Coordinator, began his presentation by expressing his pleasure to have been invited to speak, and giving an example of his personal commitment to preserving UR history. A descendant of Quakers in Pennsylvania, who assisted in the UR, Mr. Elkinton feels a particular kinship to this study.  He opened by stating that the “rule book” for National Trails—the National Trails System Act will be celebrating its 25th anniversary (October).  The Act included four kinds of trails: Scenic Trails (this program doesn’t form trails by systems, which would be important to commemorate the UR study), National Historic Trails (UR study fits two criteria for this system: It is a part of a significant route [or migration] of a people, and it has potential for outdoor recreation), Side and connecting Trails, and National Recreational Trails (This is a recognition system by plaque and/or letter from the Secretary of the Department of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture). Mr. Elkinton paraphrased a friend who stated that the National Recreation Trails program is “a worthwhile but [regretfully] forgettable program.” 

Mr. Elkinton suggested that the URAC and study team not attempt to identify every site. Instead, the URAC and the study team should “set up a system of processing site information.”  His presentation, further detailing these and other issues regarding trails systems is attached. 

The meeting adjourned for lunch until 2:35.  Questions regarding the presentation were addressed during the lunch break. 

After lunch, URAC voted that their complete addresses appear on the press release.  Therefore, inquiries will be sent to their immediate attention.  Mr. Paige suggested that URAC members attending the meeting contact those who were absent to tell them about this particular decision.  

With regard to the Briefing Statement, Mr. Blockson asked that Mr. Warren Brown (the study coordinator in NPS, WASO) clearly state the exact figure for the UR study funding (the Statement included an approximate figure). 

It has become clear to the URAC that increased funding for the UR study for FY 1994 will require political (thus, financial) support. Mr. Paige stated that it is generally the responsibility of URAC to lobby for this support. The NPS Study Team can not spearhead such an endeavor, not can they officially advise committee members on who to contact, or what to ask for. Dr. Bickley stated that she had intended to send a letter to her state representative—Senator Robert C. Byrd. Mr. Elkinton agreed with this idea, stating that Senator Byrd, the Head of the Appropriation Committee, would be a primary candidate to hear such requests. Mr. Paige confirmed that any help with increasing the project’s budget would be welcome. Perhaps then, the project may receive enough (maybe $25,000.00 - $50,000) to “keep us limping along”.  

“We haven’t marshalled the kind of support needed for this project,” stated Dr. Bickley. And if it is too late to do anything more, she continued, “I see this time (without, or with little financial support) as an opportunity to plan and continue our research.”  Because the project doesn’t get the funding requested for FY 1994 doesn’t mean that it will be defunct, stated Mr. Paige—making reference to another project that took eight years to complete due to fluctuation in funding levels.  

There was general discussion about the NPS’s Special Resource Study monies, and appropriate measures that could be taken to request additional funding via this route. (Mr. Paige stated that these funds may be divvied sometime in November of this year.) A letter, stated Mr. deForest, may encourage the Secretary of the Interior to think of the UR study as a project that should get money. Mr. deForest asked if the $276,000.00 figure was inclusive of the NHL study. Mr. Paige confirmed that $40,000.00 of that figure had been allocated for the NHL study. 

According to Ms. Powhatan, the Interpretation Sub-committee met briefly the morning of July 16, 1993, and decided that the images of persons such as Mr. John Parker and Ms. Harriet Tubman should appear on the logo (among a few others which might reflect the UR as it was—a multicultural effort). The sub-committee suggested that the logo be unveiled at the annual Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH) meeting on October 20-23, 1993 in Baltimore, Maryland. The artist commissioned to design the logo can be financially compensated for his/her work, but the government could not copyright it, stated Mr. Paige. However, he is uncertain if Ms. Powhatan (being an artist herself, and a member of the committee) can be commissioned to do work. Mr. Blockson moved that the URAC vote on the suggestion to unveil the logo during ASAALH. The vote was unanimously in favor of this suggestion. The logo will be informally agreed upon (prior to the ASAALH meeting) by the URAC—via mail, fax and telephone. Mr. Paige assured the URAC that the NPS will not need to approve the logo. This is a decision to be made by the URAC, alone.  

Details surrounding the URAC’s participation in the ASAALH evoked discussion on the following points: 1. the rental charge for the booth in the exhibition area (it was suggested that the cost be taken out of the NPS/UR study budget), at this point, Mr. deForest volunteered to provide the exhibit standards and stated that the National Capital Region Office may be planning an exhibit, and would include information on the UR study; 2. a presentation and/or informative session could be given by the Committee Chair (alone, or with URAC members) for conference participants; and,  3. the positive results from being actively involved in the ASAALH meeting (the NAACP Headquarters are in Baltimore and may be able to show support of the project at this time, using ASAALH’s format may encourage Congress to look into additional funds for the study). It was further discussed that URAC’s participation would address specific requirements in the legislation regarding public involvement, and increase UR awareness. 

The range of possible alternatives for the UR study (attached) was presented for suggestions and comments from the URAC. Mr. Paige stated that the list of sites criteria will be present to the URAC at the next meeting. The Alternatives will be changed to reflect suggestions of the URAC: 1. Alternatives C/Hubs and Spokes should be incorporated into another Alternative; Alternative D/Enhanced Existing Units/Sites should be written to include non-NPS existing and/or high potential sites (Mr. deForest suggested that a distinction be made between existing and non-existing sites of the NPS), and the alternative should be given another name more specific to the UR study’s purpose (a name which includes caves, other buildings, swamps, etc.; Alternative F/New National Parks System Unit should perhaps be renamed as well (Mr. deForest suggested it be called the New Underground Railroad Historical and Archeological district). Dr. Bickley moved that these and other changes be developed by the NPS to reflect these details, and presented to the committee again during the next meeting. Mr. Paige stated, however, that all changes would also have to be reviewed by other NPS offices. 

Mr. Blockson suggested that the next meeting be the day before ASAALH events—perhaps on October 20, 1993. This is generally the day reserved for participants to check-in and get settled. Mr. Paige said that he would attempt to get hotel accommodations in the same hotel as the conference. 

Mr. Blockson suggested that the URAC briefly discuss the “Concept for Potential UGRR Sites” draft—submitted for review by the Sub-committee of Sites. Mr. deForest requested that more inclusive language be used (paragraph one) to reflect other peoples, such as Native Americans.  

Ms. Tagger asked that the URAC, and particularly Mr. Blockson, list several definitions for the UR by the next meeting (for discussion). This information would clarify the URAC’s objectives for the study, and benefit the future selection process of interpretive methods. Ms. Tilley-Turner stated that a glossary of NPS terms would be helpful in understanding NPS policy. It was decided that the draft be resubmitted for more discussion. All were in favor of these suggestions being reviewed during the next meeting. 

The second official URAC meeting adjourned on July 16, 1993 at 6:40 PM. 

Submitted by: Tamara L. Felton  

U.S. Department of the Interior, NPS, WASO



website by PWTS MultiMedia