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West Virginia Memory Project

John Brown

John Brown/Boyd B. Stutler
Collection Database

A feature of
West Virginia Archives and History

In December 1999, to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the hanging of John Brown in Charles Town, West Virginia, the West Virginia State Archives placed online a new electronic database of materials pertaining to Brown from the Boyd B. Stutler Collection. A recognized authority on the man, Boyd Stutler (1889-1970) created one of the most important John Brown collections in existence. The State of West Virginia acquired this body of material in 1977.

In 1998, the West Virginia State Archives became one of 41 recipients of the first National Leadership Grants awarded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. With this funding, staff at the State Archives have digitized over 20,000 pages of material from the Stutler Collection and linked them to fully searchable descriptive text.

Pictorial materials now available include photographs of John Brown and his family and contemporary artist renderings of the October 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry and Brown's trial and execution at Charles Town. Also part of the database are photographs of Brown's comrades-in-arms, other associates, various sites in the United States and Canada with which Brown or members of his family were connected. The latter include views of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Brown's homestead at North Elba, New York.

This database also contains over 100 original John Brown letters and manuscripts, a similar number of family letters, and three books of business letters from Brown's partnership with Simon Perkins in the wool trade. There are several hundred letters of Brown's associates and biographers as well. Prominent among the correspondents are George Luther Stearns and Frank Sanborn, both members of Brown's "Secret Six," the group of New England abolitionists who supported Brown's foray into Virginia in 1859. Also prominently represented are Brown associate and author Richard Hinton and William Connelley, like Sanborn an early biographer of John Brown.

These and other materials in the collection are of value for a variety of research interests ranging from John Brown's early life and activities in Kansas to the raid on Harpers Ferry and subsequent interpretations of his life and character.

To request copies of materials in the Boyd B. Stutler Collection, contact Debra Basham.

Corrections to the database should be sent to Mary Johnson.

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