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For thousands of African-Americans fleeing the bonds of slavery in antebellum America, the escape routes of the Underground Railroad that crisscrossed New England were lifelines to liberty. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, a countless number of clandestine “stations’’ were part of the informal network of safe havens for runaway slaves.

Brave men and women among New England’s ardent abolitionists, free blacks, and religious leaders offered food, shelter, and, most important, a chance to fulfill dreams of freedom. Numbers of those houses still stand and a select few open their doors to the public.

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