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Brown, John -- Correspondence relating to John Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Call Number: MS E.5.1, pts. 1&2

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence relating to the abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859), specifically the unsuccessful armed slave rebellion he led at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Collection dates range from 1847 to 1904, with bulk dates between 1858 and 1860. Letters concern such matters as raising money in support of the raid and Brown’s subsequent trial; issues with Hugh Forbes and preparations for the uprising; the aftermath of the failed raid; and the rescue attempts made for Aaron Dwight Stevens and John Doy. Correspondents include Thomas Wentworth Higginson,Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, John Brown, Samuel Gridley Howe, and John W. LeBarnes. The majority of the letters are addressed to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.


  • Majority of material found in 1847-1860
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1904


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

John Brown (1800-1859) was an abolitionist who led an unsuccessful armed slave rebellion on a government armory in Harpers Ferry,  West Virginia.  Brown was captured and convicted of both murder and treason.  He was hanged on December 2, 1859.


200.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged alphabetically.

Source of Acquisition

Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

MS q AM 1996, vols. 1 and 2  Memoranum [sic] Book of John Brown, Franklin, Portage Co. Ohio.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Department staff.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
Brown, John -- Correspondence relating to John Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • 2014-06: Updated by Rachel Stanton, June 2014.

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