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Monday, March 30, 2009

Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th century Black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists who were sympathetic to their cause.The term is also applied to the abolitionists who aided the fugitives. Other various routes led to Mexico or overseas.

The Underground Railroad was at its height between 1810 and 1850,with over 30,000 people escaping enslavement (mainly to Canada) via the network, though US Census figures only account for 6,000.

Monday, March 23, 2009


There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India and terror attacks are a serious and growing threat to U.S. citizens traveling and resident there. U.S. citizens are urged to always practice good security, including maintaining a heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Coordinated terror attacks in Mumbai in late November 2008 targeting areas frequented by Westerners have raised the risk of Americans becoming intended or unintended victims of terrorism in India. Because the locations of the attacks have included luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it is becoming more difficult to modify one’s behavior to lessen the growing risk. The media attention of and public reaction to the Mumbai attack could prompt other terrorist incidents. Future attacks may also target public places frequented by Westerners, including in large cities and tourist areas such as Goa.

The U.S. Mission is concerned that increased political tension between Pakistan and India may further complicate travel in areas near their already-sensitive border. In addition, the Department of Defense has increased its security requirements for all its employees visiting India.

Examples of terror attacks in major cities include the following that have killed over 600 people:

• November 2008: Coordinated terrorist attacks on luxury hotels, Jewish community center, restaurant, train station, hospital and other facilities frequented by foreigners in Mumbai killed over 170, including six Americans,
• October 2008 Multiple bombings in markets and government offices in Guwahati, Assam,
• September 2008: Five deadly explosions in New Delhi markets,
• July 2008: Thirty bombs detonated in Bangalore, Karnataka and Ahmedabad, Gujarat as well as multiple un-detonated bombs found in Surat, Gujarat,
• May 2008: A coordinated series of bombings in market and temple areas of the tourist city of Jaipur, Rajasthan,
• December 2007: An attack on a government paramilitary facility in Uttar Pradesh,
• November 2007: Coordinated blasts at court facilities in three cities in Uttar Pradesh,
• November 2007: A blast in a cinema hall in Punjab,
• August 2007: Two explosions at a popular park and restaurant in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh,
• May 2007: An explosion at the main mosque in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh,
• February 2007: The detonation of explosive devices on a train northwest of Delhi,
• September 2006: A series of explosions at a mosque and cemetery in Malegaon,
• July 2006: Seven simultaneous attacks on Mumbai commuter trains,
• March 2006: Simultaneous attacks on a train station and places of worship in Varanasi,
• October 2005: Simultaneous attacks on several markets in New Delhi.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Preserve America

The Preserve America Communities program recognizes and designates communities that protect and celebrate their heritage, use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization, and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs. Preserve America is a White House initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. National Register of Historic Places partnership products are an integral part of the Department of the Interior's leading role in supporting the Preserve America initiative. Since the program's inception, hundreds of localities have been designated as Preserve America Communities. Many Preserve America Communities are highlighted in the National Register of Historic Places' Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary series. These travel itineraries are created in partnership with local organizations to promote public awareness about history, historic preservation and economic development through heritage tourism. The historic places links below illuminate aspects of our Nation's varied history as reflected in many Preserve America Communities nationwide. For more information about the Preserve America initiative and other designated communities

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Safety on Public Transportation

If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is mentioned in the Country Specific Information in the section about crime.

Taxis. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.

Trains. Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourists routes is a problem. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains.

If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station.

Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Criminals may also spray sleeping gas in train compartments. Where possible, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay awake. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage and secure your valuables to the extent possible.

Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where crime is a serious problem.

Buses. The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses on popular tourist routes. For example, tourists have been drugged and robbed while sleeping on buses or in bus stations. In some countries, whole busloads of passengers have been held up and robbed by gangs of bandits.

Patterns of Crime Against Motorists

In many places frequented by tourists, including areas of southern Europe, victimization of motorists has been refined to an art. Where it is a problem, U.S. embassies are aware of it and consular officers try to work with local authorities to warn the public about the dangers. In some locations, these efforts at public awareness have paid off, reducing the frequency of incidents. You may also wish to ask your rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist destinations
Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car.
Criminals use ingenious ploys. They may pose as good Samaritans, offering help for tires that they claim are flat or that they have made flat. Or they may flag down a motorist, ask for assistance, and then steal the rescuer's luggage or car. Usually they work in groups, one person carrying on the pretense while the others rob you.
Other criminals get your attention with abuse, either trying to drive you off the road, or causing an "accident" by rear-ending you.
In some urban areas, thieves don't waste time on ploys, they simply smash car windows at traffic lights, grab your valuables or your car and get away. In cities around the world, "defensive driving" has come to mean more than avoiding auto accidents; it means keeping an eye out for potentially criminal pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


When you travel abroad, the odds are in your favor that you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Travelers are, however, sometimes victimized by crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. No one is better able to tell you this than the U.S. consular officers who work in more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Every day of the year, U.S. embassies and consulates receive calls from American citizens in distress.

Happily, most problems can be solved over the telephone or by a visit to the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. There are other occasions, however, when U.S. consular officers are called upon to help U.S. citizens who are in foreign hospitals or prisons, or to assist the families of U.S. citizens who have passed away overseas.

We have prepared the following travel tips to help you avoid serious difficulties during your overseas travel. We wish you a safe and wonderful journey!


What to Take

Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress so as to mark yourself as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention.

Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.

Carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to put them in various places rather than all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing.

If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Bring them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.

To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel.

Bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.

Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.

Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality. If possible, lock your luggage.

Consider getting a telephone calling card. It is a convenient way of keeping in touch. If you have one, verify that you can use it from your overseas location(s). Access numbers to U.S. operators are published in many international newspapers. Find out your access number before you go.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lesson Plans

One of Teaching with Historic Places' primary offerings is a series of classroom-ready lesson plans. Created by National Park Service interpreters, preservation professionals, and educators, these lessons use historic sites to explore American history.

All of the lessons are available free of charge on the Web. On-line lesson plans are ready for immediate use in the classroom. They can be used directly on the computer or they can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students.

You can browse the collection in four ways, each of which includes a short description of every lesson:

* Location/State;
* Theme;
* Time period;
* Skill;
* National Standards for History;
* Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.

Although designed for middle school students learning history, social studies, geography, and other subjects, TwHP lessons are easily adaptable from upper elementary through high school, and even for college courses. Each lesson includes maps, readings, and photographs, all of which are accompanied by questions. At the end, activities pull together the ideas students have just covered and require them to initiate their own research.

Each TwHP lesson plan links both to relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12 and also to relevant Performance Expectations for Middle Grades from the national Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. For more information about the National Standards for History, please visit their website. To learn more about the national Standards for Social Studies, please visit the National Council for the Social Studies website.

All lessons are based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which include historic units of the National Park System, National Historic Landmarks, and places with state and local significance. Lessons plans that feature units of the National Park System, National Historic Landmarks, and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are noted in each categorized index. National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Designated by the World Heritage Committee, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are cultural and natural heritage sites around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

We welcome your comments and suggestions on how you've used the lesson plans, what's good about them, and how they could be improved.

In the fall of 1998, TwHP and the National Park Foundation created a curriculum kit that brought stories from six of our national parks into the classroom. While the original boxed kits, funded by Target Stores and The Eureka Company, were all distributed at Target stores, TwHP has posted much of that material on this Web site.