Author: William Still

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Arrivals from Virginia; an excerpt from Still’s Underground Rail Road Records (1886)

In this excerpt from Still’s Underground Rail Road Records, William Still describes the experiences of men and women who escaped slavery in Virginia via the Underground Railroad. A black abolitionist who worked for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, Still assisted fugitive slaves who passed through Philadelphia and published his records and recollections in several editions, beginning in 1872. This edition appeared in 1886. Still died in 1902. These narratives, along with other slave narratives, offer a composite portrait of authors’ self-styled personal stories. The amanuensis’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped the relationship and conversation with the authors. Although the narratives aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.