John Brown Online: Gilder Lehrman Recognizes 150th Anniversary of Harpers Ferry Raid with Web Exhibition

New York, NY (October 14, 2009) —On October 16, 1859, John Brown and his followers attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The daring raid was part of a scheme to end slavery by any means. In recognition of the 150th anniversary of this historic event, the Gilder Lehrman Institute presents a special online exhibition tracing Brown’s path to Harpers Ferry and the shocks his action sent beyond the moment and into the annals of American history.

This online exhibition, on view at, gives viewers the chance to explore documents, photographs, and other rare materials selected from the exhibition John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy, currently on display through March 25, 2010 at the New-York Historical Society in New York City. Organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the New-York Historical Society, this exhibition delves into the beliefs, activities, and continuing significance of John Brown, vilified by some as a murderer and venerated by others as a martyr. The official print catalogue from John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy is available for purchase online at

The online exhibition will be updated monthly at, giving classrooms and history enthusiasts alike a chance to reconsider and discuss this crucial moment in American history, continuing through its effect on the Civil Rights movement and beyond. On view now in the online exhibition are an 1855 letter from John Brown to his father Owen Brown; a photograph of John Brown taken in 1859, months before his execution; and a Civil War songbook featuring lyrics to “John Brown’s Body” accompanied by handmade watercolor drawings.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History actively promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public in creating history-centered schools, organizing seminars and programs for educators, producing print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, sponsoring lectures by eminent historians, and administering a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state.  The Institute awards the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Book Prizes, and offers fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Institute maintains two award-winning websites, and the quarterly online journal

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