Wilbur Henry Siebert collection relating to the Underground Railroad and fugitive slaves
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Extent10 linear feet (45 volumes in 8 boxes)
Each scrapbook volume includes a typescript table of contents in front of the volume and a bookplate giving the offical title of the collection as the: "Collection of Wilbur Henry Siebert Relating to the Underground Railroad and Fugitive Slaves." The bookplate includes an image of an engraving of Charles T. Webber's 1893 painting, The Underground Railroad.
Materials include: manuscript and typescript letters to Siebert, autograph manuscript and typescript notes by Siebert, manuscript maps, printed pamphlets and maps (some annotated), clippings, statistics, typescript and manuscript transcripts of materials on the UR from many sources, student papers written for Siebert's history courses taught at Ohio State University, a few photographs, and other materials.
Biographical / Historical
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Ohio Historical Society's website (at www.ohiohistory.org) explains the origin of the materials assembled in these scrapbooks, as it describes the "sister scrapbooks" that are in their possession: "Siebert is best known for his work on the Underground Railroad. He began teaching history at OSU in 1891. Finding that students in his American history classes 'were inclined to be restless and inattentive, [he] decided to arouse their interest over a mysterious and romantic subject that was rich in adventure.' With his students, Siebert pursued this research topic for the rest of his career and into retirement. At age 80 Siebert took an office at the Ohio State Museum, where he wrote his final book, The Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads (1951).
Research material [at OHS] on the Underground Railroad includes the responses generated by Siebert's seven-question survey and copies and notes from a wide variety of sources: books, diaries, letters, photographs, newspaper articles, biographies and memoirs, state, county, and local histories, annual reports, trial records, U.S. and Canadian census reports, legislation, and Congressional speeches. Siebert also traveled Underground Railroad routes, interviewing agents and former fugitive slaves. He organized his research by state and county, eventually binding his notes in volumes according to the location of the Underground Railroad station or activity."
- Siebert, Wilbur Henry, 1866-1961, collector. Wilbur Henry Siebert collection relating to the Underground Railroad and fugitive slaves, circa 1891-1898: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA