Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories

Harriet Tubman's name is known worldwide and her exploits as a self-liberated Underground Railroad heroine are celebrated in children's literature, film, and history books, yet no major biography of Tubman has appeared since 1943. Jean M. Humez's comprehensive Harriet Tubman includes both an important biography based on extensive new research and the complete texts of the stories Tubman told about her life - a virtual autobiography culled by Humez from rare early publications and manuscript sources. This book will become a landmark resource for scholars, historians, and general readers interested in slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and African American women. Born in slavery in Maryland in or around 1820, Tubman drew upon deep spiritual resources and covert antislavery networks when she escaped to the north in 1849. Vowing to liberate her entire family, she made repeated trips south during the 1850s and successfully guided dozens of fugitives to freedom. During the Civil War she was recruited to act as spy and scout with the Union army. She was rediscovered as a heroine by woman suffragists and the African American women's club movement in the early twentieth century. Her story was used as a key symbolic resource in education, institutional fundraising, and debates about the meaning of race throughout the twentieth century. Humez discusses Tubman's work as a public performer of her own life history during the nearly sixty years she lived in the north. Humez illustrates how Tubman, though unable to write, made major unrecognized contributions her own heroic myth as shaped by early biographers like Sarah Bradford. Included are a comprehensive list of primary sources and a selection of key documents that are important resources for scholars.