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City Hall to host underground railroad exhibit

A four-panel exhibit highlighting local underground railroad history will be shown at Birmingham City Hall throughout May and June.

Created as a companion to a two-year research project spearheaded by Birmingham Museum Director Leslie Pielak, this traveling exhibit will make its way around Oakland County municipal settings and libraries over the next two years. Funded by grants, the study highlights the evidence-based history of the Underground Railroad in Oakland County. The exhibit features unique stories of abolitionists and freedom seekers in the local area, accompanied by compelling photographs that enhance their narratives.

“Our goal is to shed light on new discoveries made by local historians about the opposition to slavery in Oakland County from the very beginning. We want to share the struggles of abolitionist settlers who laid the groundwork, and also help tell the stories of freedom seekers who later sheltered here as they sought freedom from enslavement in the south,” said Pielack.

The Underground Railroad exhibit is part of a two-year research project examining primary source materials connected to courageous individuals who played pivotal roles in the Underground Railroad network within Oakland County. The exhibit highlights influential individuals from Birmingham, Farmington Hills, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Southfield. Further, the exhibit showcases how various local communities were connected, rather than isolated, in their efforts to fight slavery.

The free exhibit will be available to the public May 1 through June 30, on the first floor of Birmingham City Hall, 151 Martin Street, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit is enhanced with an interactive digital map at, which expands on the information presented in the panels and is continually updated.


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