Still family papers

Collection 4386

[1882], 1987, undated
(0.2 Linear feet ; 1 box)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Still family papers
[1882], 1987, undated
0.2 Linear feet ; 1 box
Finding aid prepared by Lindsey Schwartz.
Care of this collection was supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and by the Young Friends of HSP.
Dr. James Still and William Still were two accomplished African-American men in the nineteenth century. Dr. James Still was a succcessful herbalist in southern New Jersey, and William Still dedicated much of his life to the Underground Railroad. This collection is primarily family history materials compiled in 1987, around the time of the Still family's 118th reunion.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Still family papers (Collection 4386), Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Background note

The Stills are a highly accomplished African-American family, who trace their history in the United States nearly four centuries back. Among them are Dr. James Still and William Still, two prominent nineteenth century figures, who resided in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia respectively. Dr. James Still (1812-1882) was a self-taught doctor who cycled through various trades before realizing his true calling. Known as “The Black Doctor of the Pinelands,” he built an independent herbalism practice despite pervasive racism and limited professional opportunities for Black men. His younger brother William Still (1821-1902) is most famous for his involvement with the Underground Railroad, and his namesake book that documents his emancipation efforts and families he reunited. He was also a successful Philadelphia businessman.

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Scope and content note

This collection is small but informative. Though it focuses on William and Dr. James Still, researchers are able to glean information on their mother, Charity Still, and brother, Peter Still. The majority of materials were compiled in 1987. Most substantive are a biography of Dr. James Still, along with a photocopy of a typescript of his 1882 obituary from the New Jersey Mirror (Folder 2), and various family trees and timelines compiled by Bonita Still Austin, great-great grandniece to William Still. There is a sizeable bibliography as well, which may provide direction for further research. Also included in the collection are photocopies of historical articles and a complete issue of the   Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, documenting the Still’s 118th family reunion in 1987.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania , 2020.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

None. The collection is open for research.


Gift of the Still Family Reunion Committee, 1987.

Accession number 87.43.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Still, James, Doctor, (1812-1882)
  • Still, William, 1821-1902.


  • African American abolitionists.
  • African American families.
  • African Americans--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Medicine--Practice--19th Century.
  • Underground Railroad.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Still family history (1987, undated) 

1 1

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Dr. James Still ([1882], 1987) 

1 2

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William Still (circa 1987, undated) 

1 3

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Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine (11 October 1987) 

1 4

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