Stephen Railton collection of Uncle Tom's Cabin ephemera
This material contains racist imagery of Black people. This note aims to give users the opportunity to decide whether they need or want to view these materials, or at least, to mentally or emotionally prepare themselves to view the materials.
This collection contains materials related to Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" predominately created between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century and collected and curated by Stephen Railton. Railton is a University of Virginia English professor whose work predominantly focuses on American literature. As part of his scholarship, Railton created a digital humanities project titled "Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture," a multi-media archive exploring the cultural phenomena of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" published in 1852. The project website explores the precursors of the book, the book itself, its responses, and its popularity within the post-Civil War United States following the institution of Jim Crow Laws, particularly in the American South.
The materials collected by Railton include sheet music, newspaper clippings, adaptions and abridgments of the book, playbills, postcards, glass slides, stereograph photographs of scenes and characters from the book, tickets, a photograph of actors in blackface, paper doll cutouts, advertisements for performances of Uncle Tom's Cabin, advertisements using characters from the book, a makeup up guide for actors with extensive instructions for blackface and minstrel makeup, a children's play set composed of various fold-out paper buildings recreating the setting of Uncle Tom's Cabin, needlecraft patterns, vinyl records, wax cylinders, open reels, grooved discs, and films based on Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Racist caricatures and stereotypical depictions of Black people are commonplace throughout this collection of ephemera. The reach of Uncle Tom's Cabin extended into the arenas of advertising, children's toys, literature, play productions, and household objects.
In addition to these materials is a folder of correspondence between Railton and other institutions to secure rights and permissions for the use of other institutions' materials for the website.
- Creation: 1884-2015
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Biographical / Historical
Dr. Stephen Railton is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He came to Virginia from Columbia University, where he earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. Professor Railton has published numerous articles on American literature and has written two books, including Fenimore Cooper: A Study of His Imagination. He has also appeared on PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer as an expert on Mark Twain. Dr. Railton has also created two award-winning Web-based electronic archives, intended to explore the uses of electronic technology for teaching and studying American literature: Mark Twain in His Times (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton) and Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture (http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc), which won Gettysburg College's prestigious Lincoln Prize, awarded for the finest scholarship on Lincoln and the Civil War era.
Source: The Great Course website. Accessed 4/10/2023 https://www.thegreatcourses.com/professors/stephen-railton
2 Cubic Feet (One legal-sized document box, one letter document box, three medium oversized folders, one large oversized folder; Vinyl records, wax cylinders, grooved analog discs, and open reels.)
2 grooved analog discs : 2 wax cylinders
3 open reel videotapes : 3 open reel tapes
15 vinyl recordings : 15 vinyl records
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was a gift from Steven Railton to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on 1 July, 2019.
Content warning: contains racial imagery typical for the time that contemporary viewers may find offensive.This material contains racist imagery of Black people. This note aims to give users the opportunity to decide whether they need or want to view these materials, or at least, to mentally or emotionally prepare themselves to view the materials.
- Stephen Railton collection of Uncle Tom's Cabin ephemera
- Ellen Welch
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States