Chicago’s Gray House as Underground Railroad Station?: Narrating Resistance, 1856-present

Author(s): Rebecca Graff

Year: 2018


The Gray House stands within Chicago’s Old Irving Park neighborhood. Known for his anti-slavery stance, John Gray was Cook County’s first Republican sheriff, and a legend arose designating his home a station on the Underground Railroad. As an archaeological project at the site commences, its environs on Chicago’s northwest side feature an emerging network of clandestine routes and collective resistance, focused this time on a population at high risk of federal immigration raids. This paper introduces the site, situating it within archaeological research on the Underground Railroad (e.g., Delle 2008). It addresses the way that stories of the Underground Railroad have come to constitute the preferred narrative of moral uplift and social justice for an urban, multiracial public. The Gray House illuminates a paradox: even as those stories circulate alongside the new network of resistance, the imagined remnants for connecting the two may well outstrip the documentary and archaeological records.

Cite this Record

Chicago’s Gray House as Underground Railroad Station?: Narrating Resistance, 1856-present. Rebecca Graff. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, New Orleans, Louisiana. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441664)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 218