William Still, Philadelphia’s famed Underground Railroad conductor, maintained a detailed journal that listed biographical data for some 400 fugitive slaves he assisted in the 1850s.
At the time, discovery of the journal could have endangered hundreds of freed slaves and their families. But more than 150 years later, researchers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania hope the document can better reveal the networks that comprised the Underground Railroad.
The document, dubbed “Journal C,” is no secret to historians. It served as an essential source for Still’s 1872 book, “The Underground Rail Road,” which detailed his decade-plus efforts assisting slaves on their pathways to freedom. The journal has been available online – as a series of photos – for a decade.
But HSP [Historical Society of Pennsylvania] plans to build a searchable database of the people described within it – slaves, slaveholders, abolitionists and others connected to the Underground Railroad. Ultimately, the information could be used to piece together networks of the Underground Railroad and possibly help African Americans trace their lineage.
Direct to Prototype Site/Resources: Family Ties on the Underground Railroad (via HSP)
See Also: Digital Resources From Historical Society of Pennsylvania