Who resisted and campaigned for abolition?

Lantern slide illustrations from Uncle Tom's Cabin

Made by W Butcher & Sons, about 1900

Object number Oldham RH1
Unknown donor

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Lantern slide illustrations from Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin became the bestselling novel of the 1800s. It was a direct attack on slavery in the American south and was first published in 1852, a few years before the tensions between north and south erupted in the American Civil War. Its popularity continued for decades and was a popular subject for lantern slide shows given at Sunday schools and by temperance societies.

Lantern slides could be projected onto a screen or white wall and, in the days before cinema, were a very popular form of entertainment. This set showing Uncle Tom’s Cabin was produced by the British firm of W Butcher & Sons, in business from 1870 to 1906. Their 'Junior Lecturers Series' featured several stories designed to appeal to family audiences and came with a printed sheet of captions to be read aloud with each image.

The story of Uncle Tom publicised the suffering of slaves and generated huge support for the abolitionist movement. However, because of the passive acceptance by the main character of his situation, the phrase 'Uncle Tom' gradually became an insult within African American communities. Despite abolition, African Americans would suffer the effects of institutionalised racism and segregation for many years to come.

For more information visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center website.

This information was provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.