James E. Bonine House Underground Railroad Research Library earns national honor
Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022
ADAMSTOWN, MARYLAND — For its exemplifying what dedicated local organizations are capable of in uncovering and portraying regional Underground Railroad history, the James E. Bonine House Underground Railroad Research Library has been awarded Underground Railroad Free Press’s 2022 Hortense Simmons Memorial Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge, the highest honor bestowed in the international Underground Railroad community.
Founded in 2015, the James E. Bonine House Underground Railroad Research Library has been developed into a first-class collection of local Underground Railroad history, biography, and resources.
Over the past seven years, the staff of the library has worked diligently collecting everything known about the Underground Railroad in Cass County, Michigan, where the library is located. The library houses collections of six Cass County Underground Railroad historians and extensive local research that was gathered from many sources including notebooks on every family, black and white, known to have been involved with the Underground Railroad in the county.
In 2015, volunteers began organizing piles of collected information. By 2018, originals were scanned, copied, and filed covering all aspects of the Underground Railroad in Cass County. That year, the library had its own website, urscc.org, created providing access to the world. In the fall of 2018, the library announced its official opening, both in person and online.
In 2020, copies of everything in the online library were donated to nearby Western Michigan University, ensuring that the story of the Underground Railroad in Cass County will exist in perpetuity. Bonine House Underground Railroad Research Library is listed in Underground Railroad Free Press’s Lynx registry of Underground Railroad organizations and in the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom roster.
The Hortense Simmons Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge is named in honor of a Free Press Prize judge who devoted her career to the advancement of knowledge as professor of English Literature and Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento.
Three Free Press Prize winners are chosen annually for advancement of knowledge, leadership, and preservation in the international Underground Railroad community. Underground Railroad Free Press is the leading news publication on the Underground Railroad.