For Blog Readers Unfamiliar with William Still:
Because of the frequent references to William Still, an introduction is in order for those unacquainted with his work. Still wrote The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narrative, Letters …. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872, a valuable primary source for studying the Underground Railroad and the experiences of former slaves. Still recorded the narratives of those who fled slavery and arrived at the abolition society in Philadelphia. Still’s parents had escaped from slavery in Caroline County, Maryland and settled in Burlington County, New Jersey, where William was born in 1821. Still moved to Philadelphia in 1844, and within a few years began working for the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He assisted freedom seekers arriving in Philadelphia and recorded information about them and their escape. Still started adding more detail to his reports after conducting an interview with a man who purchased his freedom from bondage in Alabama. During the interview, the man shared his memories of his parents and his early years as a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The details sounded familiar. William realized was talking to his brother Peter, a brother he had never known until that moment. After that serendipitous discovery, William recognized the importance of documenting the stories for others searching for their families, and those narratives became the core of his book.