John Brown was an abolitionist who planned to liberate slaves with small armed groups leading them through the mountains into “Good Towns” where they had full citizenship rights and self-sufficiency.
His strategy was designed with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman—both of whom had escaped slavery and were helping others via the Underground Railroad. As the United States government grew more in control by the proslavery and anti-black legislation that empowered them John Brown grew more militant in response, which included reprisal warfare in the territory known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
In October 1859 John Brown attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia to obtain arms. He was captured by U. S. Army officers who would soon lead the Confederate forces in the Civil War. He was tried and hanged by the Commonwealth of Virginia. His words and letters at the trial and in prison inspired the antislavery people in the North to declare him a martyr for emancipation and inspired the proslavery people in the South to declare that he committed treason and was seeking bloody insurrection. The John Brown raid is called the spark that ignited the Civil War.
Jean Libby is a public historian and retired community college history instructor.
Allies for Freedom was the vehicle for curation of a fine-art printed exhibition and a glossy catalog of the chronology of photographs of John Brown the abolitionist in 2009. ISBN 978-0-9773638-7-2 The reproductions are the only collection and documentation of sixteen different daguerreotype portraits of John Brown between 1846 and 1859, when he was executed by hanging in Virginia for attempting liberation of enslaved people by militant means.
Jean Libby became passionate about seeking the historical photographs of this charismatic folk hero in the 1960s and 1970s during the Civil Rights Movement and support from the black community and local archivists in West Virginia and Maryland. This independent study integrated into college and university study for her degrees in Professional Photography (A.A. 1978 De Anza College); African American Studies/Social Science (B.A. 1986 University of California Berkeley); Ethnic Studies with Black Concentration (M.A. 1991 San Francisco State University). The faith and support of Ralph Libby, Palo Alto community librarian and life partner of fifty years, remains a beacon to complete the work and to index it.
There is no institution that holds all the photographs of John Brown, nor any full chronology except the Jean Libby began in 2003 with a contribution by forensic anthropologist Eileen Barrow at Louisiana State University and public history workshops at the American Studies Association, The Daguerreian Society, Civil War Round Tables and the California History Center in her home area of Santa Clara County, California. John Brown’s widow Mary and her daughters and one surviving son (two were killed at Harpers Ferry) moved to California in 1864. Jean researches the family history in broad context and encourages descendants to their unique vision.
The larger goal of this project is to create a publicly available documented online chronology of the photo portraits of John Brown, enhanced with art that uses the images as a base to create the legendary John Brown. This is initiated by the Friends of the African American Museum at Oakland, California.
An original published catalog is in print, sold on Amazon.com on consignment and at bookstores. The majority of the funds raised will be used to prepare a supplement of inserts and descriptive souvenir cards for new discoveries and revisions about John Brown photographs.
Funds will also be used to obtain permissions from the archives who own and control the legal reproduction of the portraits for the online publication by the Friends of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (California). They will be used to create new panels and pages for the exhibition and catalog that Jean Libby authored and curated in 2009.
This lifetime work (it took thirty five years to collect the reproductions from archives and document them) is planned for online publication by the Friends of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (California). They are creating and managing this online publication with the contents furnished by Jean Libby without fee. AAMLO publication is not funded with this appeal except for permission fees from archives owners. The authorship, design, hand inkjet printing and mailing of the supplements are by Jean Libby, curator. Additional fine-art panels and legends for the permanent exhibition are under the curator’s direction by Far Western Graphics in Sunnyvale, California.
**** Notes on Rewards ****
– The supplements are insert pages to the catalog. They are hand-printed with high-resolution images on heavy glossy paper, cut to fit into the 7 x 10 inch format catalog. They are printed both sides and paginated for inclusion throughout the book, although some may choose to keep them separately in the catalog envelopes in which they are sent. Catalog envelopes are on white stock, 10 x 13. There are ten insert pages (both sides, therefore twenty pages of new images and descriptions) in the supplement. The first is a complete new ordering of the John Brown Photo Chronology to be placed in front of the catalog and as a reference.
– Cabinet Cards refer to a specific size (4 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches) of historical albumen photographs with printed photographer information on the back that was created in 1859 and widely used through the 1890s. John Brown was one of the first users of the new medium of cabinet cards. They will be commercially printed.
– Catalog description: paper binding, 96 pages, color reproductions of the photo portraits of John Brown from the closest known rendering of the original daguerreotypes. Essays, bibliography, references. ISBN 978-0-9773638-7-2 Allies for Freedom publishers, Palo Alto, California 2009. Bar code price, $45. I am returning the revised catalog to this price on Amazon.com–although that marketing is not fully in the publishers’ control.
This campaign is a flexible campaign– The campaign creator keeps all funds pledged regardless of whether or not the campaigns meets its stated funding goal.