How did John Brown get started writing about slavery? The archives of New York University’s Perlman Graduate School of Arts & Sciences have been open to researchers looking for the right docs since 2006, but new research is finally bringing Brown’s writing from the archives into the light. In the 1950s, Brown visited archives at NYU to study the letters of various abolitionists and intellectual as part of a Stanford, Columbia and U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. program. “We’re trying to think of how a contemporary university can serve as a relevant archive,” said Rebecca Sisson, curator of “John Brown: The Art & the Artifacts.” Brown’s diaries are illuminating, but the real treasure is the manuscripts of abolitionist journals Brown collected. “I grew up reading and studying John Brown in school,” said historian Matthew Kahn, who curated the study. “Here is evidence of not only his extraordinary mind but his historic role.”
Editor’s note: We’ve put together a round-up of quotes by John Brown.
“Grossly immoral business at its best: the slave trade.
But it was worse at its worst.”
—John Brown’s reminiscences from 1847, in a Letter to John Dickinson.
“Take a piece of coal and burn it and your day will be very bright. The rest is history.”
—John Brown in “The Land Reform Agenda,” Letter to Representative E.W. Jablonski in 1848, reprinted in the new book John Brown: A Life.
“How can a man know and remember the history of an ordered country if the spirit of freedom still maintains itself?”
—John Brown’s letter to his fellow slave owners in 1851.