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John Brown Collection

Stewart Bell Jr. Archives
Handley Regional Library
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society

P.O. Box 58, Winchester, VA 22604
(540) 662-9041 ext. 17

961 THL

Inventory created by Archives Staff 12/2021. Revised 02/2022.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: Collection is open to all researchers.

USE RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions may apply concerning the use, photoduplication, or publication of items in this collection. Consult a member of the archives staff for information concerning these restrictions. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of copyright.

EXTENT: 0.21 linear feet

DATE: 1800-2007

SCOPE AND CONTENT: The John Brown Collection contains material concerning the life of abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859). Most of the items concern his raid on Harpers Ferry and the subsequent trial. There is also information about his life in Kansas and centennial and sesquicentennial events.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL: John Brown was born Torrington, Connecticut in 1800. He moved several times, living in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania before settling in Kansas. He was an ardent abolitionist and he and his sons took up arms in the conflict that centered on whether Kansas would enter the Union as slave state or a free state – a period known as the Bleeding Kansas crisis. In October 1959, Brown led a raid on the Federal Armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) with the intention of starting a movement to liberate people from slavery. Local militia units and U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee and J. E. B. Stuart put down the action after a 36-hour battle. Brown was tried for treason in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), convicted, and hanged on December 2, 1859.

CITE AS: John Brown Collection, 961 THL, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.

ACQUISTION: Acquired as a gift.



Avis, John, jailer at Charles Town, Virginia where Brown was hanged, 2 leaves, typescript, with envelope.

Brown, John – Harper’s Ferry Raid – news articles

Centennial Observance – John Brown Riad, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, October 15-18, 1959, historical booklet published by harper’s Ferry Area Foundation, 1959, 24 pages

The Guardian (3 items) Newsletter of the Jefferson County, WV Historical Society (folder includes the following):

April 2009 – List of John Brown Sesquicentennial Events

July 2009 – Article on John Brown’s Raid

January 2010 – Article on John Brown’s Raid and pictures of John Brown’s fort/armory.    

“A Journey to Virginia in December, 1859,” by John Copeland, in Oberlin Thursday Lectures, Addresses and Essays, by James Monroe, 1897, 30 leaves, printed (photocopy):.

“John Brown and Border Warfare” by R.H. Sherar, Sante Fe Historical Society, Baldwin City, Kansas, 1978, 26 pages, printed (Sherar was one of the five survivors of the Battle of Osawatomie).

“John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry: an eyewitness account by Charles White,” edited by Rayburn S. Moore, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 67 (October 1959): 387-395, 8 leaves, printed

“The Life, Trial, and Conviction of Capt. John Brown: Being a Full Account of the Attempted Insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, VA,” New York, Robert M. DeWitt, 1859, 100 pages, printed

News Articles, unnumbered leaves, printed, photocopy

PHOTOGRAPHS: Use only if there are photographs in the collection. Delete if not used. Photographs and other images belonging to this collection may be accessed online through