BRUNSWICK, Maine – Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote much of her historic book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” at Bowdoin College. Because of the lucky discovery of a potential homebuyer, some of the first serialized versions of the novel may soon be added to the collections of the Bowdoin College library.
Stowe’s husband was a professor at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, and Stowe wrote much of the book sitting in his study in Appleton Hall.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” has been credited with encouraging abolitionist sentiment and helping lead to the Civil War. Just before it was published as a book, the story was printed as a newspaper serial in “The National Era,” an abolitionist newspaper.
In the attic. While exploring the attic of a home he was thinking about buying, Jack Conway, a Massachusetts author and historian, discovered well-preserved issues of the newspapers.
Conway wanted the papers to be preserved and, because of Bowdoin’s connection to the book, his first thought was of donating them to the college.
Bowdoin already owns some installments of the serialized version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” but owns nothing past December 1851; the series ran through mid-1852.
Welcome addition. Richard Lindemann, head of special collections and archives at Bowdoin, has not yet seen the papers Conway found, but is hopeful they will help fill in the collection.
“What we have is a very strong collection, but this would be a jewel in the crown,” he said.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is among the culture-defining books. Conway has not yet purchased the house, but has spoken with the owners about donating the newspapers to the college.
He said they have agreed, as long as the donation is made in memory of their parents.