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The Lost Geography of William Still’s Underground Railroad

June 14, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides (APT) kicks off its next monthly meeting on Wednesday June 14 at 7 pm with a talk, “The Lost Geography of William Still’s Underground Railroad.” Come early for dinner and drinks! Presenting is Professor Andrew Diemer, author of Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad. The meeting will be held in person at Philly’s Gourmet Steaks, 114 Market Street, and also offered on Zoom.

William Still, the youngest son of two parents who had escaped from slavery, moved to Philadelphia as a young man where he ultimately became the central figure in the region’s Underground Railroad, helping hundreds of fugitives from slavery in their flight to freedom. In this talk, Andrew Diemer will explore Still’s efforts aiding fugitive slaves, helping us to understand the importance of Still’s often ignored work. At the same time, he will make the case for rethinking how we see the historic geography of Center City Philadelphia, a collection of neighborhoods we often associate simply with the city’s revolutionary era past. Still’s life leads us to see the city through the lens of the free Black communities which developed in those same neighborhoods and which would serve as the foundation for the Underground Railroad.

Andrew Diemer is Professor of History at Towson University, where he has taught African American history since 2011. He received his PhD from Temple University. His first book, The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817-1863 was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2016. Last year, he published Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad, with Alfred A. Knopf, which the New York Times praised as a “compelling new biography,” written with “meticulous care and a jaw-dropping amount of research.”

Following the presentation will be a short business meeting and some social time.

APT meetings are open to aspiring and working tour guides as well as anyone with an interest in Philadelphia-focused history. Attend one meeting for free and then it is $50 to join the association for the year or $10 per monthly meeting in-person event. Zoom meetings are free. Please join us for convivial company, good food, fascinating presentations, and lively discussions.

The meeting will also be livestreamed on Zoom. The link will be shared in the APT President’s email the week of the meeting.



June 14, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Philly’s Gourmet Steaks
114 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106 United States
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