Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nook Farm: Home of 19th century liberal thinkers


Women's rights and the abolitionist movement, controversial and emotional subjects in the Victorian nineteenth century, sparked lively discussions at Nook Farm, an exclusive enclave in Hartford, CT, where some of America's foremost liberal thinkers gathered to confront these issues.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, a Nook farm resident, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, which became one of the turning points in the movement to abolish slavery. The Stowe Center Library's documents on African-American History trace the attitudes prevalent at the time, and even includs pro-slavery publications.

The library's extensive manuscripts and letters in the area of women's history illustrate how Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sisters, forceful advocates of women's rights, along with 100 letters from Susan B. Anthony, responded to the challenges facing young women of the day. The library includes an extensive collection of works by renowned ministers Lyman Beecher, Harriet's father, and Henry Ward Beecher, her brother.

Another famous resident, Mark Twain, spent 20 of his most productive years at his home on Nook Farm, where everyday brought new visitors and intellectual discussion, along with billiards, card games, and musical productions by his daughters.

A visitor center and the Twain and Stowe houses are open for touring, and you can stroll the grounds in the footsteps of some of America's great thinkers.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest St., Hartford, CT 06105. (860) 522-9258. From I-84 take exit 46, Sisson Ave., north to Farmington Ave. Turn right to the parking lot opposite Woodland St.

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