Harriet Beecher Stowe Collection, 1880-1999

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Volume: .25 linear feet

Organization/Arrangement: Organized as a single series.

Biographical Note: Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, CT. She attended Hartford Female Seminary - which was founded by her sister Catharine - and then taught there until 1832. Under the positive influence of her sister's teaching methods, Harriet Beecher began to develop her talent as a writer. In 1832 she moved with her family to Cincinnati, where her father became president of Lane Theological Seminary. It was here that she met Calvin E. Stowe, a professor at the seminary, and they were married in 1836.

It was in Cincinnati where Harriet Beecher Stowe became a member of the Semi-Colon Club, a local literary society. She also published stories and magazine articles for such publications as Atlantic Monthly and The Independent, and co-authored a book entitled Primary Geography for Children. In 1850 the Stowe family moved to Brunswick, ME, where Calvin took a teaching job at Bowdoin College, his alma mater. It was here Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 had deeply disturbed Stowe and was a factor in inspiring her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. The novel was first published in serial form in The National Era from 1851 to 1852. In 1852 it was published in book form in two volumes, later became an international bestseller, and was translated into over 60 languages.

The book garnered Harriet both praise and criticism. Abolitionists and reformers lauded Stowe for her compassionate portrayal of slaves, while others attacked her for fabricating unrealistic images of slavery. This led her to publish the key to Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1853, where she presented her source material. A second anti-slavery novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, told the story of a slave rebellion. There is no doubt that Stowe's work humanized slaves by telling the story of individuals and families affected by the horrors of slavery. In creating the character of Eliza, the slave mother, Stowe drew on her own experiences as a mother. In 1849, her son had Charley died as a result of a cholera epidemic, and the experience of his loss enabled Stowe to imagine how awful it would be for a slave mother to lose her own child.

In 1853, Stowe was invited to the British Isles, where was received enthusiastically. She returned to Britain and Europe later on, and continued to travel throughout her life. Stowe remained passionate and outspoken about slavery, and through her column in the New York newspaper, The Independent, she urged women to actively oppose slavery by petitioning and participating in lectures. From 1853 to 1864 the Stowes lived in Andover, MA, where Calvin Stowe taught at Andover Theological Seminary. The family also purchased a home in Florida, where they vacationed regularly. In 1864 they moved to Hartford, CT. Calvin Stowe died in 1866, but Harriet Beecher Stowe remained in Hartford, raising their seven children until her death on July 1, 1896.

Description: The collection of approximately a dozen files includes ephemera and one piece of correspondence related to Uncle Tom's Cabin, one tract by Stowe, 20th century published scholarship about her literary and personal life, two undated stereoscopic views possibly at her Florida residence and an undated photograph of the author. Also an extensive collection of her works published in magazines and newspapers.

Access Restrictions: None

Please cite as: Harriet Beecher Stowe Collection, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine

Container List:
001.  Correspondence, ALS Christmas card to Minnie Nichol, January 1880
002.  ALS to Clayton H. Crosley, 1-16-1886
003.  "The Two Altars" Liberty Tracts no. 1, 1852
004.  "Uncle Tom's Cabin" play advertising bill, 1890
005.  Uncle Tom's Cabin tradecard - C.H. Smith dramatization, undated
006.  "Men of Our Time" publisher's advertising broadside, undated
007.  Stereoscopic slides (2) of Florida home, undated
008.  Literary/historical articles, 1938, 1952, 1981
009.  Reprint of American Studies article by Mary Kelley, "At War with Herself" 1978
010.  Display copy photographs of Stowe, undated
011.  Articles, reviews about Stowe, 1990s
012.  Finding aid to Stowe collection at Bowdoin, undated
013.  Framed B+W image of HBS and signed scrap inscribed, "Trust in the Lord and do good" - on display in the Sarton Room, undated
014.  20th c. balsam pillow Pearl of Orr's Island, ME, undated
015.  Newspaper article re: Sojourner Truth (photocopy and original), 1878
016.  Newspaper article by HBS "Old Father Morris" in Mechanic and Farmer (photocopy; original in OVS), 1838
016a.  Newspaper article by HBS "What is to be done with our Charley?" in Aurora of the Valley (photocopy--original is in OVS), 1859
017.  Periodical article "Harriet Beecher Stowe at Brunswick" by Herbert Edwards, 1967
018.  Photocopy of Robin W. Winks introduction to the 1969 reprint of An Autobiography of The Reverend Josiah Henson ("Uncle Tom") from 1789 to 1881, 1969

Further Resources:
Harriet Beecher Stowe: The Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut