William Still was born in the fall of 1821 in New Jersey to ex-slaves from Maryland, the youngest of eighteen children. Still moved to Philadelphia in 1844 and began working for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1847. He went on to become the chairman of the Vigilance Committee. William Still became a leader in the African-American community in Philadelphia, working with the Society to give aid to fugitive slaves, and to improve the rights and conditions of African-Americans. He kept detailed accounts of the fugitive slaves that he assisted. One of the fugitives turned out to be his brother, Peter Still, who had been sold further south and was separated from the rest of the family. Still also worked in the stove and coal businesses in Philadelphia. Still published the records of his work with the Underground Railroad, at the time the only work published on the topic by an African-American. William Still died on July 14, 1902.