A walk through history
The Destination Freedom: Underground Railroad Walking Tour of Waverly at the Waverly Community House examines the complex history of a small village, centered around its role in the Underground Railroad. Comm archivist and institutional advancement coordinator Gia Reviello began to develop the tour in early 2016 based on various primary and secondary sources including manuscripts, books, and archived newspaper articles.
Additional material was drawn from Waverly native and former Philadelphia Inquirer journalist and editor Jim Remsen’s 2017 book titled Embattled Freedom: Chronicle of a Fugitive-Slave Haven in the Wary North. Remsen tells the complex story of Waverly, and Northeastern Pennsylvania as a whole, during the Civil War era and profiles many of the central figures highlighted on the Destination Freedom tour.
Guided school tours began in 2017 and since then, with the amazing support of our community and the expertise of historian Edward Joseph Murphy, the program has grown into a valued local resource that brings an important history to individuals, families, groups and organizations from all over the country. Destination Freedom and the Waverly Walking Tour was most recently honored with a designation as an official program of the US National Park Service, Network to Freedom. Its Special Exhibits Gallery opened in 2020 and is open to the public by appointment.
The Destination Freedom: Underground Railroad Walking Tour of Waverly is the only program centered around the Underground Railroad and local Civil War era history of its kind in the region. It is an interactive program that explores the lives of the small village’s abolitionists and formerly enslaved settlers. As a public oriented program, we aim to tell the story of Waverly by exploring the town itself and using the experiences of 19th century Waverly residents to better understand the world around us today.
EJ is an educator and public historian and has been the Program Coordinator for the Destination Freedom Program since 2020. EJ also teaches social studies at the Howard Gardner Charter School in Scranton and previously served as co-director of the Waverly Community House’s Comm Camp. As Program Manager, EJ facilitates walking tours, curates the Destination Freedom Special Exhibitions Gallery, coordinates projects and relationships with other historic and educational institutions, and provides lectures and programs related to the content of the Destination Freedom Program.
EJ is a 2014 graduate of Keystone College with a degree in social studies education. He has written articles for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine as well as the Pennsylvania in the Civil War blog and lectures on various topics related to Civil War era history.
Gia has been with the Waverly Community House since 2014 and currently serves as the Institutional Advancement Coordinator. Much of her work is focused on grant writing, facilitating partnerships, and social media/digital marketing. Prior to this role, Gia was an integral part of the Destination Freedom Program, working closely with Waverly Community House Executive Director Maria Wilson and additional staff to create the Destination Freedom Walking Tour Map. She continues to oversee the program and new project developments and partnerships.
Gia earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, with a minor in History from Marywood University in 2014. She began working at the Waverly Community House as an intern that year and has been with the organization since that time.