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Written by Sarah H. Bradford, this book was published in 1869 and became the source of most of the stories about and, later, books on Tubman's life and deeds up to and during the American Civil War.

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Collection Location: Privately owned

Contributor: Eastern Shore Regional Library

Cover and two pages from Scenes in the Life of Harriet TubmanCollection Overview: Written by Sarah H. Bradford, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman was published in 1869 and became the source of most of the stories about and, later, books on Tubman's life and deeds up to and during the American Civil War. The book was published at Tubman's request to help her raise money to support her elderly parents and pay the mortgage on the house she had bought for them in Auburn, New York. It consists of stories told by Tubman to Bradford about her life as a slave growing up on Maryland's Eastern Shore, about her escape from slavery, about her life as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and about her service to the U. S. Army during the Civil War. It includes letters testifying to her service, truthfulness, and honesty and a newspaper account of how she helped the runaway slave Charles Nalle to escape from custody before being returned to slavery. It also provides two other features: the Essay on Woman-Whipping, and the List of Subscribers to the Publishing Fund. The Essay is an antislavery tract about the practice, by both male and female owners, of whipping both male and female slaves. The List displays the names of friends and benefactors, most from Auburn, New York, who donated money to defray the cost of publication of the book.

Written and assembled in about a year by an author whose knowledge of the South, of slavery, and of her subject has been called into question, the book certainly doesn't meet the standards of evidence of historical research today. Indeed, in the revised edition published by Bradford in 1886 and entitled Harriet Tubman, The Moses of Her People, facts and descriptions were changed without explanation. Nevertheless, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman presents a compelling picture of life in the South before and during the Civil War and of the courage and resourcefulness of Harriet Tubman's life in the face of slavery.


Related Material:

Still, William. The Underground Rail Road, the 1872 edition found at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15263/15263-8.txt

Still, William. The Underground Railroad. New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968 (reprint of 1872 edition)

 
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