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John Brown collection

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0028

Scope and contents

The collection consists of correspondence and papers of John Brown (b. 1800 d. 1859), American abolitionist. Also included is correspondence of several relatives and persons associated with him in Brown's Kansas and Virginia insurrections.

Over half the correspondence, spanning from 1826-1849, consists of John Brown's letters to business associate Seth Thompson. The letters reflect his financial difficulties, but deal principally with his activities as a tanner and land speculator. A few of the letters written by his father, Owen Brown, his uncle, Abiel Brown, and his brother, Oliver Brown, concern family and business matters and only occasionally reference politics. Another group of letters is from Brown's fellow abolitionist, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn concerning the Free-Soil contest in Kansas, the National Kansas Committee, and various state committees. The letters concern finances and the amassing of arms for Brown's insurgencies on Kansas soil. Two letters concerning Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, from local resident D.E. Henderson, give a detailed account of the foray. A military order, signed by Robert E. Lee, details a guard to escort Brown and his fellow prisoners to the Charleston jail. Included also are two diaries and some personal papers of Judge Richard Parker, Brown's trial judge. The papers do not bear on the Brown trial at all, but concern Parker's day-to-day affairs.


  • Creation: 1800-1917
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1826 - 1859


Rights statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright and/or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact


1 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into five series: Correspondence of John Brown; Correspondence of Franklin Benjamin Sanborn; Correspondence of Seth Thompson; Document; and Correspondence of others.

John Brown collection
Finding aid prepared by Karen Jefferson, 2001 November.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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