Philadelphia: People’s Publishing Company, 1879. Revised edition. Originally published in 1872. With all forty-four plates (including frontisportrait of Still), comprising seventy engravings. With portraits of important abolitionists like Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frances E.W. Harper (1825 – 1911), one of the first Black women to be published in the United States. Note that the present work was not actually issued with the portrait of Charles W. Cleveland that is listed as facing page 724. Some edgewear. Toning to title-page and some light occasional toning or foxing, but overall quite clean. A very good copy of a work that has become some of the best evidence of the Underground Railroad. Publisher’s paneled black cloth stamped with large gilt device. Neatly recased. Octavo. 780, [5, index], [7, testimonials] pp. Item #17035
William Still (1821 – 1902) was a conductor of the Underground Railroad who, by the end of his fourteen years in service, helped nearly eight hundred freedom seekers escape from slavery. He directed a network of abolitionists, sympathizers, and safe houses that stretched from Philadelphia to Ontario, Canada. In his journals, Still kept meticulous, secret records of the freedom seekers who passed through the Philadelphia station. The present work compiles those records—including the accounts of Ellen and William Craft, John Dunjee, Jane Johnson, and 645 more—and has become “some of the best evidence we have of the workings of the Underground Railroad, detailing the freedom seekers who used it, including where they came from, how they escaped and the families they left behind,” (PBS website).
In the preface, Still recounts the story of his parents, who escaped from slavery before he was born, and his reunion with his older brother, who had been unable to escape with their parents and remained enslaved for decades. Still stresses the importance of the firsthand narratives of freedom seekers both in recording the history of slavery and in motivating further efforts for the rights of Black people to vote, get an education, and own property.