Rare Books is kicking off Black History Month with the latest issue of “Students in the Stacks,” in which student assistant Claire Peterson discusses a work by African American author William Still about the experiences of escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad. Stay tuned throughout the semester for more of Claire’s Civil War discoveries!
In The Underground Rail Road: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, &c., Narrating the Hardships, Hair-Breadth Escapes, and Death Struggles of the Slaves in Their Efforts for Freedom, as Related by Themselves and Others or Witnessed by the Author… (1872), William Still – abolitionist, businessman, and the youngest of eighteen children – tells the story of fugitive slaves’ escape and liberation. The book is the only first-person account of the Underground Railroad written and self-published by an African American.
The “Hardships, Hair-breadth Escapes, and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their Efforts for Freedom…” promised in the work’s title are recounted through letters, portraits, and illustrations.
Still dedicated the work “to the friends of freedom, [and] to heroic fugitives” who either gained or died in pursuit of liberty.