Biography and History

Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American abolitionist and novelist, was the seventh child of Roxana and Lyman Beecher, a famous Congregationalist minister. Harriet was educated and subsequently taught at the Hartford Female Academy, founded by her sister Catharine in 1823. She also taught at the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati, established by Catharine in 1832. Harriet's most famous work, Uncle Tom's Cabin> (1852), attacked the cruelty of slavery, and brought Stowe international fame. It was first published in the Cincinnati abolitionist newspaper The National Era under the ns2:title Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly. Other works by Stowe include A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853) and Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp(1856). In 1836 Harriet Beecher married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a clergyman and widower.

Catharine Beecher, Harriet's Beecher's oldest sister, was an author, educator, and reformer. She was a determined opponent of women's suffrage, and became one of the leaders of the early anti-suffragists. Her writings include A Treatise on Domestic Economy for the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School (1841) and The Duty of American Women to Their Country(1845).

Henry Ward Beecher was the eighth child of Roxana and Lyman Beecher. He was a prominent, theologically liberal, American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker. He was an advocate of women's suffrage, temperance, and Darwin's theory of evolution, and a foe of slavery. Beecher held that Christianity should adapt itself to the changing culture of the times. He was also anti-Catholic and was contemptuous towards Irish-Americans. An adultery trial in 1875 in which he was accused of having an affair with a married woman was one of the most famous American trials of the nineteenth century. His published works include Life of Jesus Christ (1871) and Evolution and Religion(1885).

Source: From the finding aid for C1217

  • Beecher Family Collection. 1845-1886 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1217

    Consists of selected manuscript material of three members of the Beecher family -- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, and Henry Ward Beecher -- who became nationally known for their work on abolition and women's suffrage.