Oswego Public Library Commemorates Black History Month

OSWEGO, NY – A rare first printing of the first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is now on display at the Oswego Public Library.

Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin

This work helped to fan the flames of the anti-slavery movement.

It is owned by the Oswego Library and is one of 5,000 copies of the two-volume set printed in 1852. It sold out within days, and a second printing of 5,000 copies was made.

The original paper cover is missing on the displayed copy, and several pages are missing from the end of the second volume.

A cloth covered and a gilt edged edition was also available. The paper-covered edition sold for $1; the others for $1.50 and $2.

Ron Wilson examines the display after its unveiling.
Ron Wilson examines the display after its unveiling.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrop is the other book that is in the display.

A free black that lived in the Glens Falls, New York area, he was lured to Washington D. C. where he was sold into slavery.

This work, printed in 1853 and dedicated to Harriet Beecher Stowe, is the story of his life and that of other slaves.

This gripping account also aided the abolitionist movement.

These works will be displayed for three months in our Underground Railroad Gallery at the Oneida Street entrance.

Harry Shock, Kathy Mantaro, Mary Shanley, and Barbara Sugar look at
Harry Shock, Kathy Mantaro, Mary Shanley, and Barbara Sugar look at the ledgers. Library trustee Charlie Young is seen in the background and trustee Donna Kuhn shows mostly her hair in the front left next to Harry.

This display also features copies of material from the original two ledgers that recorded library usage when we opened in 1857. In them are recorded the names of the early users, including our black patrons and in a later year, a list of the library’s books was pasted in.

A small reception was held on Sunday to thank the ten individuals who sponsored the program to have the two ledgers cleaned, mended, and rebound, and to celebrate the return of the books from the bindery.

The ten donors are: Muriel Cole, Martha Lyon, Ruth Sayer, Mary Shanley, Harry Shock, Bill Symons, Don Todd, Judith Wellman, Bob Wood and Charlie Young.