Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Monday, March 23, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Meet the Featured Guests!

Join us this Thursday for our March Salon: "Women's Rights = Human Rights?" The program will focus on the ways "women's issues" can be championed by individuals of all genders. Leading the program will be Susan Campbell (moderator), Carolyn Treiss, and Kyle Turner. Learn more about the featured guests below!

Susan Campbell 
Stowe Center trustee, Author

Susan Campbell is a Stowe Center trustee and award-winning author of Dating Jesus, and the biography, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker.For more than a quarter-century, she was a columnist at the Hartford Courant, where her work was recognized by the National Women's Political Caucus, New England Associated Press News Executives, the Society for Professional Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Sunday Magazine Editors Association. Her column about the shootings at lottery headquarters in March 1998 was part of The Courant's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

The mother of two adult sons, and the grandmother of seven, she has a bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, and a master's degree from Hartford Seminary, and she lives in Connecticut with her husband.

Carolyn Treiss
Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

As Executive Director, Carolyn Treiss is responsible for administration, major strategic initiatives, budgeting, and mandate compliance, and is the Commission’s main liaison to other State agencies and branches of government. Treiss, who holds a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a B.A. in political science and Russian from Bates College, brings to the PCSW a background in public policy, social services and grassroots advocacy. Her passion for women’s rights activism was sparked after college as a volunteer for NARAL Pro-Choice CT, and her commitment to women’s rights issues grew during a graduate school internship in which she advocated in the Connecticut General Assembly for victims of sexual assault. Since then, Treiss has served as director of NARAL Pro-Choice CT, Chief of Staff at the Office of Health Care Access, Legislative Program Manager for the Department of Social Services, and most recently as Policy Director for the Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus. Believing in public service to her community, she has served on both her local Town Council and Board of Education. As a mother of two school-aged sons, she is committed to teaching her boys about the breadth and depth of women’s roles at home, in the workplace and in the community.

Student, University of Hartford

Kyle Turner is freelance writer, editor, and full time student. He's the chief editor of Movie Mezzanine's blog, The Balcony. He began writing on the internet in 2007 with his blog The Movie Scene. Since then, he has contributed to TheBlackMaria.org, Film School Rejects, Under the Radar, and IndieWire's /Bent. He is studying cinema at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Are you coming to the Salon? What do you plan to ask? Let us know below!

Friday, March 20, 2015

163rd Anniversary of Uncle Tom's Cabin

On March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's famed anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was first published. The novel, detailing the stories of enslaved characters Tom, Eliza, and George, transcended time and place, becoming an international hit and literary classic. More than just a book, Stowe's words served as a call to action to readers to recognize and ultimately take up the abolitionist cause. Stowe's novel caused such a stir that President Lincoln declared to Stowe "So you're the little woman who started this great war." The great war being the U.S. Civil War, fought over slavery, and the trigger of the war being, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

What books have caused you to change your views? What about films, television shows, or movies? Why do you think Uncle Tom's Cabin made such an impact? 

Have you read Uncle Tom's Cabin? If not come over to the Stowe Center to pick up a copy in our museum store. Then head out on a tour of the Stowe House to learn about what led Stowe to write the book as well as its historical and contemporary impact. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day, Stowe, and Food Justice

Though celebrated around the world, Americans, whether Irish or not, love St. Patrick's day more than most. But despite the popularity of St. Patrick's day, Irish history, including the story of why many Irish-Americans came to the United States, is absent from history curriculums.

One of the darkest and misunderstood periods of Irish history is undoubtedly the potato famine, where an estimated one million Irish citizens died and an additional million fled the country (to places like the U.S) in a period of mass starvation and destitution. The potato famine, which lasted from 1845-1852, is largely understood as a natural disaster- that is the deaths were a result of widespread blight that affected potatoes. And while the blight contributed, political decisions, including the mass exportation of other food crops, like grain, eggs, flour, and cattle by British landlords, exasperated the situation, and turned a one-crop disease into a manufactured phenomena of economic exploitation and marginalization.  

Illustration of Irish potato famine

Elements of the Irish potato famine can be seen today in global food systems. Though enough food is produced for all of the world's 7 billion people, much like enough food existed in Ireland at the time of the famine, 1 in 8 people still go hungry. The existence of hunger is a result of inequities in the production and distribution of food. Globalization has allowed individuals with means to access food from all over the world, yet many of the individuals cultivating this food can not afford or access it themselves.

How can we use lessons from the Irish potato famine to compel contemporary food justice? Though most known for anti-slavery advocacy, Harriet Beecher Stowe was a champion of early environmental and food justice causes and even supported local, "fair trade" general stores. Is buying local and "fair trade" food a solution to larger inequities in food distribution? How can we create a more equitable global food system? 

Come to the Stowe Center to experience the new Stowe House experience aimed at using the story of Stowe to encourage positive change and social justice. Whether you care about food justice, education, or abolitionism come and share your thoughts! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

#NoCeilings Report Indicates We're #NotThere Yet

Early this morning, the Clinton Foundation released the "Full Participation Report", an empirical study on the status of gender equality worldwide. The report is a product of  "No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project", an initiative of the Clinton Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at eliminating gender based inequities in health care, education, the workplace, and the media.   

The report concluded that though there has been "no better time to be born a girl," most countries are still "not there" when it comes to full gender equality across the globe.    

The report features both empirical statistics and personal stories of girls and women facing gender discrimination and inequities. What do you think compels people to act more- stats or stories? Harriet Beecher Stowe was a proponent of the emotional, sentimental story and used the characters of Uncle Tom, Eliza, and Harry to connect with and galvanize readers to support abolitionism. Though in recent years "big data" has dominated in political, activist, and academic circles. So what do you think? Will this report be effective?

Explore the report and let us know what you learned!

Sunday, March 8, 2015


March 8th marks International Women's Day, an event celebrating the contributions of women worldwide, while also recognizing the need for women's rights and gender equality.


Harriet Beecher Stowe once said "Women are the real architects of society." What do you think that means? What can International Women's Day accomplish?

International Women's Day takes a global look at equality for women. Yet often times discussions of women's equality are formed from the perspective of white, Western, and heterosexual women. How can we thus create a gender equality and justice movement in which all voices are heard?

On March 26th at 5:00 pm, the Stowe Center will host "Women's Rights = Human Rights?" a Salon focused on issues of gender equality and the ways individuals of all genders can be champions of women's rights.  Join the discussion!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Long Road to the Ballot, Then and Now #Selma50

On March 7, 1965, hundreds of marchers took to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to protest the shooting of Jamie Lee Jackson and demand equity in voting rights. In the midst of the protests, Alabama state troopers violently assaulted hundreds of marchers, thereby shifting the day from peaceful demonstration to "Blood Sunday." Since that day, voting rights continues to progress and regress to include more individuals, disenfranchise others, and to redefine what it means to be a participant in our democracy.  

In 2014, 83 restrictive voting laws were proposed in 29 different states. These laws attempt to limit early voting periods and institute strict i.d. laws that make it difficult for marginalized groups, specifically the poor, elderly, and young, to register and cast a ballot. Voting rights have gradually taken a hit since the 2010 midterm elections and increasingly so after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, a clause that required states with histories of voting discrimination to get federal approval before changing electoral laws. Though this current climate paints a bleak outlook, we can take solace and inspiration in the collective actions of those before us, especially those of young people,who have long been mobilizing forces behind voting rights.                                                                                            
From the activists who fought to ratify the 15th and 19th amendments like Stowe's sister Isabella Beecher Hooker, to the students who coordinated registration drives across the south in the early 1960s, to Dr. King and Civil Rights icons like Fannie Lou Hamer and Bayard Rustin who championed the passing of the Voting Rights Act, the struggle over the vote is threaded into the fabric of the American narrative. These fights serve as a striking reminder that it took and takes arduous effort for some just to make it to the starting line of our democracy.              
The significance of the the voting rights movement is twofold. In a striking and almost unprecedented manner, these campaigns saw the organization of hundreds of activists all galvanized towards a singular cause. The work of these activists highlighted the importance of planning, diligence, and collective strength to enact holistic and thorough change. Beyond the power of its organization, these movements located the right to vote as a fundamental part of civil rights and posed the questions of “who gets a say in our democracy?” and by extension “who gets to be considered American?”.                                                                                                                                             
So, as we stand 50 years out from Blood Sunday, what can we do now to protect voting rights? What lessons have we learned from  Selma? What have we failed to learn? In the wake of the Department of Justice's report on overt racism in the Ferguson police department, how can we leverage the work of Civil Rights leaders in the past to the movements of the present?       

Check out President Obama's speech on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday below:

Come to the Stowe Center to learn more about the work of Stowe and her sister, along with ways that the past can be used to fuel contemporary action against injustices.

Friday, March 6, 2015

#2015StowePrize winner Ta-Nahesi Coates on Ferguson Report

The Department of Justice released its report on the Ferguson Police Department.  Read Coates' thoughtful and clear-headed piece The Gangsters of Ferguson. Justice for all?  Or just for some? Check out: Coates wins the 2015 Stowe Prize  and Stowe Prize Big Tent Jubilee to learn more

Monday, March 2, 2015

#WomensHistoryMonth at the Stowe Center

As declared by the federal government in 1987, March marks Women's History Month. The honorary month stands to highlight the roles and contributions of women in the scope of American and world history.  

Women's History Month is an apt time to critically examine the systemic exclusion of certain identity groups, such as women and women of color, from social, political, and economic institutions. And as the Stowe Center seeks to connect past to the present, we plan to use Women's History Month as an opportunity to explore gender issues of the 21st century in a historical context.    

Join us on March 26th for "Women's Rights = Human Rights?", a Salon focused on the ways so called “women’s issues” can be championed by individuals of all-genders and can exist more broadly as human rights issues. The Salon will feature Carolyn Treiss, Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Susan Campbell, writer, and Kyle Turner, University of Hartford student.

What does Women's History Month mean to you? Are you a feminist? What can we do to ensure individuals of all backgrounds and identities are included in the story of American history?