Knox College Library
Special Collections and Archives
371 S. West Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Galesburg Colony at Knox College
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of people who helped thousands of African-American slaves escape to freedom. Anti-slavery organizations and Underground Railroad activities were the first integrated social movements in American history.
Galesburg and Knox College, located in West Central Illinois, were founded in 1837 by anti-slavery advocates who came to Knox County from upstate New York. The town and College, from their inception, were perceived as most likely the leading down-state center of abolitionism and Underground Railroad activity in Illinois. Though other down-state communities could lay claim to significant anti-slavery and Underground Railroad involvement, what made Galesburg unique was the fact that the overwhelming majority of its citizens, for the first 20 years of its existence, were opposed to the institution of slavery. The anti-slavery influence and Underground Railroad involvement of many Galesburg citizens gradually affected numerous people and communities in a wide circle surrounding the college town.
Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Station at Knox College
Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, has been designated a "Freedom Station" by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Knox joins a nationwide network of more than 60 stations, with Underground Railroad heritage, that are affiliated with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The national center is developing a network of sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, devoted to research and education about the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements.
The Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Station was recognized in 2006 by the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. This designation recognizes the Galesburg station's program as making a significant contribution to the understanding of the Underground Railroad in American history.
Knox has created exhibits on the history of the Underground Railroad in the region and is gathering and preserving documents about the Underground Railroad.
The director of the Underground Railroad Center at Knox College is Owen W. Muelder.
Old Knox County Jail
337 S. Cherry Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
September-May: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
June-August: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
Meeting with director -- by appointment only
Owen W. Muelder, Director
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