Looking for Harriet

Ready for the adventure to begin! I typed “Harriet Robinson Scott” into the rectangle marked “search” and nothing. Really, it said “zero”. How could that be? I know she’s in the G L database somewhere. Hmm, well, let’s try “women black history” and see what that yields. Okay, more like it. Lots of choices, but Harriet is not among the them. There are lots of goodies though. I’m like a small child wanting to grab the shiny images and click on the weblinks. Even though my mind is chanting history, history, I have to steady my hand away from the mouse. Regroup. Focus. I know Harriet is in here. But she’s not, even when I type in “Adam Arenson” the author of Freeing Dred Scott. The search still says “zero”. I am going to do like my students. Google. Sure enough. There is the article I saw Professor Pinsker discuss twice (I watched the video of the recap session.) Where is the “web guide” he put together for us? Oh, well, time to focus on Harriet. Here’s what I learned from the Arenson essay:

Harriet Robinson Scott (I like referring to people with their whole names–especially those enslaved!) was born in PA, was illiterate, she was Dred Scott’s second wife (interesting!!) she was proud of making a living separate from her husband (early feminist–I like her already) and when a reporter asked her to encourage her husband to go on a speaking tour after the trial, she replied, “Why don’t white man ‘tend his business, and let dat n—– ‘lone?”

She was quite the power house! But, there’s a mystery in Arenson’s article. He mentioned when Harriet died in Missouri on June 17, 1876, she was buried, next to her famous husband, in Greenwood Cemetery’s unmarked grave section.

Huh? Didn’t I have an image of her gorgeous tombstone in my last post? It seems in 1957, the 100th year anniversary of the Dred Scott, the granddaughter of Scott’s owner, donated the monies for a gravestone for Mr. Scott, but nothing was mentioned about Mrs.’s maker. Did the tombstone appear during the 150th anniversary in 2007? Google to the rescue again. Seems the grave yard was abandoned land by 1994, but a group of historically minded folks pitched in time and money to revitalize it. “Harriet’s Hill” complete with the tombstone and pavillion was dedicated in 2010.

Funny how the scavener hunt to find Harriet yielded the most information on her grave, but doggone it, not her. Still looking for Harriet.


Posted in Digital Storytelling, Discussion, Memory, Primary Sources

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House Divided Project

Course Professor
Matthew Pinsker: pinskerm@dickinson.edu
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA 17013

Course Producer
Lance Warren: warren@gilderlehrman.org
Gilder Lehrman Institute
New York, NY 10036