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Twelve Years A Slave: See the First Edition in Special Collections

Portrait of Solomon Northup from his 1853 book Twelve Years a Slave.With the recent release of the movie Twelve Years a Slave, Americans are learning the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841. Northup survived a dozen years of slavery, being sold from owner to owner in Louisiana before friends in New York finally learned of his whereabouts and were able to secure his relase. In 1853, the same year he was freed, Northup published Twelve Years a Slave, his gripping account of these years. The book is especially important for scholars studying slavery in the District of Columbia, because it provides a firsthand description of slave markets in the District.

A first edition copy of this work is available in Special Collections for researchers. We welcome anyone interested in seeing the original publication to visit us on the seventh floor of Gelman Library.

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