There are many valuable resources online for studying Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Here are a few that we think are particularly worthwhile.
UNCLE TOM’S CABIN
Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture
No collection of online resources for Uncle Tom’s Cabin should be without a prominent link to Dr. Railton’s site at the University of Virginia. It’s not always intuitive to navigate, but any effort is well rewarded. The site contains a great depth and breadth of both primary and secondary materials.
A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin
This is the essential companion guide, written by Stowe herself. As the subtitle states, it presents “the original facts and documents upon which the story is founded. Together with corroborative statements verifying the truth of the work.” This was Stowe’s response to those pro-slavery writers, critics and commentators who accused of her of simply making up the supposed evils of slavery. It is not only a valuable background companion to the novel, but also a sobering look at the harsh realities of slavery in 19th century America.
- This version on Google Books can be searched online, and also provides a link to download a PDF copy. It is a scanned facsimile of a print edition, which gives a good “feel” for the original, but can sometimes be a bit difficult to read.
- This version on Dr. Railton’s site is easier to read, as the text has been transcribed. It can also be searched using the “Search mode” on the site.
Original Edison Cylinder Audio Recording: The Flogging Scene (2:15)
Uncle Tom and Simon Legree, following the slave auction, in the scene where Legree orders Tom to flog Emmeline, claiming that he now owns Tom “body and soul.” The very loud scratching sound at the beginning gets better as the recording goes on.
Released in 1904, the performance style will sound very odd to modern ears, but this is very likely what a live audience would have heard if they had attended a stage performance such as the one Edison filmed in 1903. Listening to this is a great complement to watching the 1903 Edison film, which is included in its entirety on our DVD.
Original Edison Cylinder Audio Recording: Introduction of Topsy (4:15)
In this recording we hear the scene where plantation owner Augustine St. Clare introduces us to his new slave Topsy, a “fresh caught specimen,” whom he gives to his northener cousin, Ophelia, to “educate.” We hear a cackling Topsy sing a song about being “growed, not born.” Released in 1910, this would be from roughly the same era as the 1903 silent Edison film included on our DVD. It is typical of the performance style of the time and the way in which the characters from Uncle Tom’s Cabin were played on stage.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin in The National Era
Before being published as a novel in 1852, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was serialized weekly in The National Era in 1851, 160 years ago. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has set up this website where they are republishing the novel in its original format. Each weekly installment will include an introduction by a Stowe scholar, historian or fan. Additional features include: “This Week in History”, a collection of news stories from Connecticut, the United States and around the world; illustrations corresponding with specific chapters; connections Stowe made between real life events and the characters of her story.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin at The Lost Museum
The famous 19th century promoter P.T. Barnum had a keen sense of the popular, and his American Museum featured entertainments both spectacular and “educational.” Given its wild popularity it’s not surprising that he jumped on the Uncle Tom’s Cabin bandwagon with a number of exhibitions and presentations. Although given his leanings toward the sensational they were not always true to the letter or spirit of Stowe’s original. This “virtual” re-creation of Barnum’s museum provides yet another contemporaneous perspective.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site
There is debate over whether or not Josiah Henson was the one and only real-life model for Uncle Tom, but there is no question that he and his story were an important source for Stowe. There is also no question that Reverend Henson escaped slavery and founded, in Canada, the Dawn Settlement, as a refuge and new beginning for former slaves. This is the website of the Henson museum and historic site in Canada.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection
The Library of Congress has many high quality images online, especially from advertising flyers and posters for various traveling “Tom Shows” from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library’s Digital Collections hold many excellent Uncle Tom’s Cabin images online, most especially illustrations from the many early print editions of the novel.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
In their own words, “The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.” This is an essential resource for anyone studying Harriet Beecher Stowe. The site also maintains its own page of links to additional resources on Stowe and on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, among other topics.
The Stowe Society
The Society offers academics, scholars and students an opportunity to share in the study and appreciation of the works and life of Stowe through presentations of scholarly work, round-table discussions, and conferences. The Stowe Society is also tracking a number of events commemorating the 2011 Bicentennial of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s birth.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Profile
This profile on The New York Times was written by noted Stowe scholar, Dr. Susan Belasco, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Stowe Biography on the Civil War Women Blog
An extensive Stowe biography assembled from a variety of sources.
The Ohio Historical Society maintains the house in Cincinnati where Stowe lived for almost 20 years, starting at age 21, before moving back east to Maine.
The Beecher Family
Harriet Beecher Stowe was one of 11 children of Lyman Beecher, all from a family “whose deep religious convictions and social conscience spanned the nineteenth century and made them prominent historical figures whose impact on religion, education, abolition, reform movements, literature and public life were exceptional.” Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a deeply religious novel and this website, about key members of the Beecher family, gives some context for understanding Harriet’s perspective.
The Disunion Blog at The New York Times
2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War — a war that, in some measure, was sparked by Uncle Tom’s Cabin. There is no shortage of American Civil War material online, but we are finding particularly interesting the near daily postings at The Disunion blog at The New York Times. It “revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.” While first publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin pre-dates the start of the war by nine years, its pre-war influence is acknowledged in this post on the blog — and we know that as the most popular novel and stage entertainment in America, and a worldwide sensation, its impact on the abolition movement continued throughout and beyond the war years.
If you maintain, or know of, a website that you think should be included on this list, please use our contact form to let us know. Please use the subject line “Link Request.” Not all requests can be accommodated, but all will be considered.