Through Darkness to Light

Princeton Architectural. Mar. 2017. 192p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781616895655. $40. PHOTOG
This title is not a history of the Underground Railroad, that network of people, routes, and safe houses used by runaway slaves to reach freedom in the Northern United States and Canada in the years before the Civil War. For excellent chronicles on that subject, consider Fergus M. Bordewich's Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, or Eric Foner's Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. Instead, this is a creative and imaginative project that uses the medium of photography to show how the journey might have appeared to those in route. Photographer Michna-Bales bases her project on research conducted in archives rich with materials on the Railroad, including those of the Indiana Historical Society. She scouted locations around Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. Conveying the darkness of nighttime in photos is not easy to do; readers' eyes must adjust to the inky depths of these images, suggesting the daunting quest so many experienced.
VERDICT An inventive, heartfelt, and worthy contribution to literature about the Underground Railroad.

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