William Still’s Underground Railroad Data Now Freely Available Online

William Still (1821-1902), a conductor on the Underground Railroad who helped many hundreds of enslaved African Americans to freedom. Photo Credit: Library of Congress.

Throughout the 1850s, the abolitionist William Still played a crucial role in assisting hundreds of enslaved people seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, Still was unique among Underground Railroad conductors in that he actively took notes on the enslaved freedom seekers who sought refuge with him. The act of note-taking was a very risky move given that the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act mandated that all Northerners living in non-slave states were required to assist the federal government in returning freedom seekers to their enslavers.

In any case, Still compiled his notes and published a book in 1872, The Underground Railroad, to demonstrate the heroism of the freedom seekers who sought refuge with him.

A new biography of Still by William C. Kashatus was published was published just last year with Notre Dame University Press, William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia. Included this book was a very comprehensive appendix with information on nearly 1,000 freedom seekers who sought refuge with Still. This appendix was organized by the late James McGowan and Kashatus. After some personal contemplation, I decided that I wanted to create a downloadable dataset featuring Still’s Underground Railroad in order to make this information more readily available. Using a combination of the McGowan/Kashatus information along with some of my own research, I produced that dataset and recently made it available to the public.

If you’d like to download the dataset for your own research purposes, you can find it here.

Cheers

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