Please join us as we celebrate the acquisition of Morris Library’s three millionth volume—Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe—with a presentation by Dr. Jo-Ann Morgan, Professor of African American Studies at Western Illinois University, and Dr. David Anthony, Professor of English at SIU Carbondale. Morgan will discuss the visual culture of Uncle Tom’s Cabin while Anthony will talk about the significance of Stowe’s work as literature.
Published in March 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold more than 300,000 copies in its first year and humanized the cruelty and suffering of slavery for the general public. It was controversial from the start, sparking outrage in the South where it was banned as abolitionist propaganda. President Lincoln, when he met Stowe in 1862, may or may not have greeted her as “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war,” but the story illustrates the novel’s popularity and power. It is still occasionally banned today, for outdated racial language rather than its anti-slavery message. For that reason it will be added to the library’s Ralph McCoy Freedom of the Press collection, in honor of our first dean and his devotion to the principles of the First Amendment.
The Friends of Morris Library purchased this first edition/first printing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to highlight the continuing growth and breadth of Morris Library’s academic collections and achievements in supporting faculty, student and community research. As we celebrate this milestone we acknowledge not only the size of our collections but the range of resources that libraries must now acquire for research use. We also take the opportunity to reflect on the future of books, libraries, and the exchange of information.
This event honors a tradition begun with a 1968 ceremony to present the library’s one millionth volume, a first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass donated in honor of President Delyte W. Morris. In 1988 the library welcomed its two millionth volume, a 1644 printing of John Milton’s Areopagitica.
The celebration will take place Wednesday, March 30, at 3 p.m. in the first floor rotunda. A reception will follow in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors.