Ball State Alumnus Jeannie Regan-Dinius had a full house for her presentation “The Underground Railroad in Indiana” at Carnegie Library. As the Director of Special Initiatives for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, one of her projects has been to research the roll Indiana had in the Underground Railroad.
Jeannie began her talk with two main points before she even started on Indiana. One, that slavery was an ‘American thing’ not a southern thing. Not all Hoosiers were sympathetic to the plight of African Americans. Her second point was that ‘Abolitionist’ did not necessarily equate to participation in the Underground Railroad. There were some Abolitionists that thought the Underground Railroad was fundamentally wrong, and that the end of slavery should come through purely legal means. With those thoughts in the background, she gave a brief overview of Underground Railroad activity in Indiana
Despite being a Northern state, Jeannie noted that if she could find more than ten people connected with the Railroad, she
was happy. Indiana did have its share of supporters though. Jeannie shared stories involving Indiana’s more famous conductors like Levi Coffin, but focused more on the lesser known activities of Hoosiers. Individuals who opened their homes and never shared their actions for fear of the repercussions, a gentleman who patrolled the Ohio River looking for bounty hunters, and county officials who simply responded that the person they were looking for just, disappeared.
Indiana has a rich history concerning the Underground Railroad, and it is a history that is continuously growing. For those who wish to work with expanding the record of Indiana’s history with the Underground Railroad or similar topics, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers internships that give hands on experience in doing history.
If interested, please contact Jeannie Regan-Dinius at: jrdinius@dnr.IN.gov
For more information on Indiana’s role in the Underground Railroad, please visit: