Thursday, February 9, 2012

Underground Railroad: Families Reuniting

Underground Railroad: The William Still Story

PBS is airing a story this month about the life of William Still.   Much of the information about the Underground Railroad in the Boston area is known due to his diary.  It uncovered the way he helped hundreds of slaves escape slavery and reach Canada.  At that time, bounty hunters often abducted former slaves who were in the free states and returned them to slavery in the south.  Once a former slave reached Canada they were relatively safe from the bounty hunters.  

Still’s diaries document the almost 800 former slaves that he helped through the country to the Canadian border to freedom.  His diary included information about the Underground Railroad section which he helped create and direct, the lives of those seeking freedom, where they came from, and their families left in slavery.  He kept his diary despite knowing that if he was caught helping slaves escape he would be severely punished, that he could lose his life or his freedom.  Still was moved to document the stories of the escaping slaves because his mother had no choice but to leave 2 of her children in slavery when she escaped.  He hoped that his documentation would someday help former slaves reunite with their families that were left behind.  He was able to help some families reunite after the Civil War, and his diary is still helping descendants reunite today.  

William Still was the corresponding secretary and chairman of a sub-committee of the vigilance committee connected to the Underground Railroad.  He was asked in later years to record his memories which has been digitized and can be read at: 

More information about the PBS show and a picture of William Still can be found at:

The schedule for the show on KERA Channel 13 in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Other times, later in the month, can be viewed at
Feb. 10th 4:00 am
Feb 10th 9:00 am
Feb 10th 3:00 pm
Feb 10th 5:00 pm
Feb. 11th 1:00 am

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