Early US Literature

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Digital Databases on Harriet Beecher Stowe

One of the major works that helped shape and influence people’s opinion on slavery was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; however, throughout her writing career she has managed to publish over 30 books with topics ranging from children’s books, biographies and theology. Stowe came from a family that expected their children to influence and shape the world. Stowe found that, through writing, she could discuss and question the injustice on human slavery of her time. Although Uncle Tom’s Cabin remains as one of her most read works, her life remains as influential as her work especially considering she was writing in a period where women had very little rights as citizens.

A good research tool to consider when conducting a research on Harriet Beecher Stowe is the American National Biography Online (ANB). The ANB provides biographies; portraits and contents related to the most influential people who have helped shape the United States. Over 18700 biographies are available and are published under the Oxford University Press. The database formats its contents based on chronology. Biographies discussing individuals will follow the events from birth to the present (or death) of the individual. Each article contains a list of bibliography and primary sources that can be useful as a guide for scholars. The Harriet Beecher Stowe biography on the ANB provides historical background on Stowe. It offers information on her life, as well as, family members and influential individuals in her life. The biography concludes with a bibliography that can guide scholars to the most extensive resources on Stowe and her works. It lists the libraries, Universities, and organizations that hold her collections. The ANB is a good starting point for any research topic on influential individuals in America as it helps guide scholars to the most relevant and extensive collections available.

The “Harriet Beecher Stowe Center” offers an immense amount of information regarding Stowe’s work and life. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has an extensive collection of material related to Stowe and her family; however, it is not accessible via the website and can be viewed at the center in Hartford, CT. The website contains the text of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in its original form released in The National Era. The text includes commentaries by different scholars. The website lists the impact Stowe’s book had on the public. Her book was highly influential to the point that it is believed that Abraham Lincoln approached Stowe saying “[s]o you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war” (web). Additionally, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center offers school programs for those interested in learning more about the life of Stow.

Another website that specializes in Stowe’s life and work is titled “Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture” hosted by the University of Virginia. The website is divided into three different modes. The browse modes allows scholars to access, one at a time, the primary material from text, images, or film clips. As for the search mode, this mode allows scholars to browse all the materials at once. The last mode, the interpret mode, includes secondary material such as essays by different scholars; it also includes a timeline that can benefit both teachers and students. The timeline provided in the interpret mode gives a good insight on the life of Stowe and the impact Uncle Tom’s Cabin had on the American culture; as it includes historical moments as well as sound clips and movie clips of that period. The Browse mode includes texts and different editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as reviews and responses on the book.

There are many tools and databases to help refine the scholarly research; it is best to begin with the American National Biography to learn more about the author. The ANB is available for the public and can be easily accessed. However, other collections may not be as accessible, particularly the ones held at museums or organizations related to the author.

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