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HIS 179/365/373/375/460: Antebellum African American History: Underground Railroad

research African American history through Reconstruction + the history of American Slavery

Sydney Howard Gay

Another critical primary source document about fugitive slaves is Sydney Howard Gay's Record of Fugitives, available through an online exhibition sponsored by Columbia University Libraries. Similar to McGowan, the Columbia exhibitors highlight the personal information Gay provided about the fugitive slaves who moved through the Underground Railroad. Particularly poignant are descriptions of husbands, wives, and other family members left behind.


William Still's Underground Railroad: Background and Significance

William Still's Underground Railroad was published in Philadelphia in 1872. Most historians consider it to be the most significant primary source available on the subject. As a result of its significance, Still's Underground Railroad remains widely accessible today both in print and online. See, for example, the original 1872 edition (HathiTrust) and the 1878 revised edition (Project Gutenberg).

William Still: An African-American Abolitionist consists of digitized archival resources from the Special Collections Research Center of Temple University Libraries. The collection details the life and times of William Still and his family, primarily his daughter, Caroline Still Anderson. Covering much of his social and political activities, the collection offers a glimpse into Still’s life, highlighting his accomplishments, fatherhood, family matters, and concerns for the state of affairs of African Americans in the nineteenth century. The site includes family letters, family photographs and abolitionist pamphlets from the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries.

The McGowan Index to William Still's Underground Railroad

Thank you to Temple University Libraries for making available the McGowan Index — copyright 2003 by Temple alumnus and author, James A. McGowan. The McGowan Index is an Excel spreadsheet that indexes William Still's important work in a whole new way. The focus of this index is on the runaways rather than the letter writers as in previous Alexander Street Press indexes. McGowan indexed the runaways' names and aliases, the day, month, and year of escape, city, county, and state of origin, gender, age, color, number of escapees in the party, including number captured if applicable, children in the party, ability of runaways to read/write, conductor name, party armed or unarmed, if violence was involved in the escape, mode of escape, names of runaways' owners, and estimated monetary value of runaways in and out of home state.

The McGowan Index opens up new opportunities for research and complements the indexing done by Alexander Street Press in the American Civil War Letters and Diaries database, not licensed by Gitenstein Library. (TCNJ affiliates can access the database at Princeton's nearby Firestone Library.) In the McGowan Index, page numbers refer to the Johnson Publications reprint (c1970) of the Underground Railroad, not the original 1872 edition. Any researcher can download the Index (350 K). Using Excel filters, limit your results to a particular field or combination of fields. Please note that the McGowan Index may not be used for commercial purposes.