Children's Activities

There are three main areas of discussion here: transatlantic travel, transatlantic communication, and escaping slavery.

Using the questions below as starting points, discuss these topics in pairs, groups or as a class. Then click to see the information below each topic and see if it matches your ideas. After your discussions, complete the activities below using the links to other resources on the website.

Discussion Points: Transatlantic Travel

Imagine you were going on holiday to the United States with your family. Which methods of transport would you use on your journey? Think about everything, from your departure from your house to your arrival at your destination. Ask your friends and family: have they ever been to the United States before? How long would the journey take?

Now imagine you wanted to make this journey in the 1850s – how would your journey differ? Would it be longer or shorter, and how much so? Would you use the same methods of transport? Would you travel to and from the same cities? Why do you think this has changed now?

Make a list of the advantages/ disadvantages to travelling across the Atlantic in the mid-nineteenth century. Why do you think transatlantic travel is so much easier now?

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Discussion Points: Transatlantic Communication

Imagine you have written a message to your friend, who lives in the United States. It is the middle of the nineteenth century and you live in Leeds, England. What method do you use to send this message? What are your options? Which of these is the quickest?

How long would it take to send a message to a friend in the United States now? How would you send this message? Make a list of the ways people keep in touch with relatives and friends who live abroad nowadays.

The transatlantic telegraph was one of the most important advancements of the nineteenth century. What were the advantages of having this link? What is the advantage of knowing news quickly?

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Discussion Points: Escaping Slavery

What do you think it was like to be an enslaved person on the run?

Escaping from slavery was dangerous, so why do you think so many risked it?

Can you think of any escape methods? How would you make sure you were safe?

What was the Fugitive Slave Law, and what effect do you think this had on those who were still enslaved?

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Suggestions for Activities (school activities)

Listen in groups to the stories of famous escape routes. Then imagine you and your friends are planning to escape from slavery, and discuss possible escape routes. When would you escape? Where would you go? How could you make sure you weren't recognised? Make a detailed plan and storyboard of your ideas.

Listen to any one of the stories of the well known escapes from slavery, noting down any important details. Make an illustration of your favourite escape plan, using the notes you have made.

Imagine you are on the run from slavery. Write a diary entry of the night of your escape, including details of your plan, and your feelings about fleeing slavery. What are your feelings about leaving behind the people you loved?

Have a look at the biographies of figures associated with local antislavery activity in Leeds and England. Using the information provided, make a timeline of important events, such as births, deaths, and relevant publications.

Media Activities

Click on this link to the animated carriage tour of Leeds, and play it. Look out particularly for street names and buildings. Do you recognise any of the places in the tour?

Have a look at our photo gallery here. Did you know that these places were sites of anti-slavery activity?