Ancestry partners with Sundance TV for film about the Underground Railroad

Six strangers uncover shared histories in the documentary Railroad Ties.

Six descendents of slaves and abolitionists discover their shared family histories in a new documentary created by Ancestry and Sundance TV.

Railroad Ties explores how these peoples’ lives were shaped by the journeys their ancestors took on the Underground Railroad.

Directed by Sacha Jenkins, the 23-minute film was created by inviting the unsuspecting group to Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, a stop on the Underground Railroad. One by one, each person learns of his or her connections to the railway and others in the room. Some discover they are related; others find out their ancestors helped each other reach freedom.

Four of the people featured in the film come to learn they are all descendants of Mary Weems, an enslaved woman who escaped to Canada before the Civil War. One man realizes he is related to Lewis Tappan, a Brooklyn-based abolitionist best known for helping escaped slaves of the Amistad.

The film, created by Weber Shandwick, Sundance TV, and Omnicom Media Group’s Content Collective, made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last month. It also aired on Sundance TV and AMC this month, in what is Black History Month.