Finding Aids
printer friendly version

Harriet Powell Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Powell, Harriet, fl. 1839.
Title: Harriet Powell Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1877, 1941
Quantity: 1 folder (SC)
Abstract: Material relating to Tom Leonard and the 1839 escape of Harriet Powell, "white lady fugitive." Clippings from the Sunday Morning Times (Syracuse, New York), June 10, 1877, and a narrative explanation dated October 1941.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
http://scrc.syr.edu

Biographical History

Harriet Powell arrived in Syracuse in September of 1839 with wealthy Mississippi plantation owner J. Davenport and his wife. Powell was evidently very fair-skinned, as she was referred to as "the white lady fugitive" and initially several visitors thought her a family member, only later discovering that she was in fact the Davenports' slave.

The Davenports and Powell stayed at a local hotel called The Syracuse House for some time. During a reception on October 8, the night before their departure, Harriet escaped with the help of Tom Leonard, then a waiter at the Syracuse House, and of Deputy County Clerk William M. Clarke (nephew of abolitionist Dr. John Clark) and local businessman John Owen. Although Leonard was subsequently arrested and questioned regarding Powell's escape, he gave no information regarding either Powell or his fellow conspirators.

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Harriet Powell Collection consists of clippings and a personal narrative. The lengthy clipping is from the Sunday Morning Times (Syracuse, New York) of June 10, 1877, and gives a detailed account of Powell's escape in 1839, in particular the role of Tom Leonard in organizing her escape. The handwritten narrative, dated October 1941, was written by the donor, Theodore W. Clarke, who was the grandson of William M. Clarke, also involved in the escape. Clarke's narrative gives some historical background for the story -- based in part on family tradition -- and the clipping. A typed transcription of the narrative is included.

Return to top

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Return to top

Related Material

Additional Harriet Powell material is available in our Rare Books holdings. Please search the Classic Catalog to locate these items.

Return to top

Subject Headings

Persons

Clarke, Theodore W.
Clarke, William M., fl. 1839-1877.
Leonard, Tom, d. 1877.
Powell, Harriet, fl. 1839.

Subjects

Abolitionists -- United States.
Slavery -- United States.

Places

Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Memoirs.

Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Harriet Powell Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Theodore W. Clarke, 1978.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 26 Jul 2010
Revision history:

Return to top

Inventory

Memorabilia
SC 548 Clipping, manuscript narrative 1877, 1941

Return to top