Abolitionist’s papers to be preserved in Blockson Collection

February 1, 2010

Several 19th century photographs will be digitally preserved in Temple's Blockson Collection.

A series of 19th century personal letters and photographs that once belonged to African American entrepreneur and abolitionist William Still will be preserved by Temple University’s Blockson Collection.

William Still, one of the most successful black businessmen in Philadelphia’s history, was a prominent and respected leader of Underground Railroad activities in the area and author of The Underground Railroad, the only first-person account of black participation in this freedom movement.

His papers, which include several personal letters to his daughter Carrie, are in a state of severe deterioration.

Temple recently received funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities to assist in the conservation and digitization of Still’s 140 documents and 14 photographs.

“These papers are a national treasure because Still was a major contributor to the success of the Underground Railroad activities in Philadelphia,” said Blockson librarian Aslaku Berhanu. “He was part of Philadelphia’s free black community that played an essential role in Railroad activities.”

– Jazmyn Burton

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