From the beginnings of slavery, those enslaved sought to be free. American history was shaped significantly by the tensions in slavery and freedom and then the deep struggles to understand what it is to be free and what it is to be equal. The struggles continue.


Governors State University

Friends of the Library


Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad

– a Bus Tour


Date:                           Saturday, June 10, 2017
Where:                        Governors State University
:                       8-8:15 a.m.
Program:                     8:20 to 9 a.m.
Bus departs:                9:15 a.m.
Return to GSU:           3 p.m.
Cost:                           $75 (includes program, bus transportation and lunch)

Pre-registration required and space is limited.

Presented by: Larry A McClellan, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Community Studies at Governors State University.  He served as pastor with diverse congregations, and is a prominent author on the Underground Railroad. (see below for full biography)

This program is an introduction to that part of the struggle for freedom that came to be known as the Underground Railroad in Illinois – whites and blacks engaged in networks to support freedom seekers. This full-day bus tour will take us through Crete, Steger, Chicago Heights, South Holland, Harvey, Riverdale, Blue Island and Robbins, while discussing the history of African Americans in the region, the impact of the Underground Railroad, and the individuals seeking freedom from slavery.

Some points of interest include:

  • The Batchelder homesite and Underground Railroad campground
  • The oldest Farmhouse in the region
  • A historic cemetery
  • Ton family memorial and farmsite
  • Robbins Historical Museum
  • And much more

Register today  or call 708-534-7892.

Sponsored by the Governors State University Alumni Association


Presenter Biography:

After graduate work at the University of Chicago, in 1970 Larry helped create Governors State University and served with the University for 30 years.  For many years, he was University Professor of Sociology and Community Studies, and six years Executive Director of the South Metropolitan Regional Leadership Center.  In the mid-70s, he was mayor of University Park (then Park Forest South).  After retiring from GSU, he spent four years as a senior consultant with the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.  Throughout his career, he also served as pastor with diverse congregations.  He was selected by the Illinois Humanities Council for 2013-14 as an Illinois “Roads Scholar” lecturer on the history of Illinois highways.

His consulting, research and writing focus on historic highways, the Underground Railroad in Illinois, and on African American and regional history south of Chicago.  Major publications include 25 articles in the Encyclopedia of Chicago [2005]; The Pontiac Trail, Route 66 and the Early Chicago to St. Louis Roads  [2013]; co-author of a chapter on freedom seeker, Caroline Quarlls, in A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Freedom and the Underground Railroad on the Detroit River Borderland [2016].   Since 2006, he has presented 3 research papers on the Underground Railroad at the annual symposia of the Illinois State Historical Society.  For the annual National Park Service Network to Freedom conference, 2010 “Freedom Seekers in Illinois;” 2014 “Women in Chicago working with the Underground Railroad.”  He serves on the boards of the Illinois State Historical Society, the Will County Historical Society and Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights.

He is currently completing book manuscripts on “To the River, the Remarkable Journey of Caroline Quarlls” [freedom seeker from St. Louis], “Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois,” and on regional history south of Chicago.  For ten years, he wrote a monthly regional history column for The Southtown/Star newspapers.   Larry graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles, with a year at the University of Ghana in West Africa.