Library Catalog - Kentucky Historical Society

Object Record

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Object Name Poster, Theater
Catalog Number 1998.86.62
Maker Erie
Date ca. 1880
Material(s) Paper
Dimensions H-33.25 W-25.125 D-1 inches
Description This poster for "De Wolff's Original Uncle Tom's Cabin" has the title printed across the top of the poster in yellow text with black outlining around the book's title. The full color image depicts the scene in Uncle Tom's Cabin where Eliza escapes with her son. The poster shows a snowy outdoor scene set against a yellow sky. There are five houses and outbuildings in the background. Four men and three hound dogs chase after a woman wearing a long yellow dress and blue scarf wrapped around her head. The woman is carrying a young child wearing a yellow dress, dark stockings, cream shoes, and a green bonnet that is hanging off the back of his head. The woman is running across a frozen river and jumping across frozen blocks of ice as the dogs and men stand on the bank and begin their attempt to cross after toward her. In the lower right corner, the lithographer's name is printed: Erie. Across the bottom edge of the poster, a light brown vertical theatre bill is adhered to the posters that read, "De Wolff's Original Uncle Tom's Cabin. Opera House." The far right edge of the paper is torn, so the text or number cannot be read.
Notes Of all the performance texts of the anti-slavery cause, the best remembered are dramatizations of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe herself denounced these adaptations as simplistic, and performances were seldom used as Abolitionist fund-raisers, so they should not be considered documents of the movement. But they were the century's most-performed melodramas and remained a staple of traveling theater families throughout the century.

This poster may have been used to promote the production of Uncle Tom's Cabin at the Louisville Opera House. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous, overly sentimental antislavery book was turned into unauthorized theatrical plays, called "Tom Shows." The shows spread common stereotypes about African Americans, many of which endure to this day. The negative associations have overshadowed the historical impact of the book.
Collection Dr. Wade Hall Collection
People Hall, Wade
Subjects Posters
Opera houses
Opera posters
Theater posters
Theatrical posters
Theatrical productions
Search Terms Poster
Physical Holder Kentucky Historical Society - KHS