indexHarriet Tubman, 1822 – 1913, sought first her own freedom and then facilitated the freedom of others through the Underground Railroad. She came to Beaufort District, South Carolina during the Civil War as a scout, nurse and spy helping bring freedom to hundreds of enslaved African Americans living along the Combahee River in June 1863. In the mid-2010s, there were proposals to honor her service on the United States $20.00 bill in place of President Andrew Jackson whose visage was put on that denomination in 1928. The first film, a biopic, about her early life and Civil War era services entitled “Harriet” starring Cynthia Ervino was released in November 2019.

As is the case with many births of enslaved people, the precise date of Harriet’s birth is unknown. However, based on historical research by Kate Clifford Larson and subsequent research by the National Park Service historians, it is now believed that Araminta Ross, Harriet Tubman’s birth name, was born in early to mid-March of 1822.

List compiled by Grace Morris Cordial, MLS, SL, CA, Beaufort District Collection Manager, Beaufort County Library. The Beaufort District Collection is the special local history collection and archives unit of the Beaufort County Library (SC). Latest update: 16 November 2022; Created: 27 March 2014.

Online Resources:

DISCUS databases provided by the State Library to the public libraries in South Carolina require a password for access from home. Visit your local public library to see if it provides access to this or similar research databases.

Harriet Tubman : Visions of Freedom” website by PBS is a collection of film-based inquiry modules designed for middle and high school students. “Powered by historical material and compelling documentary footage, students and educators engage with resources that inspire inquiry, empathy, reflection, and social change.”

Harriet Tubman’s Maryland Home Found, Archaeologists Say,” Washington Post, 20 April 2021.

What’s Fact and Fiction in Harriet” by Rachelle Hampton, Slate, 31 October 2019 compares the portrayal of Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman in the film biopic to historical facts known about this leader.

Following Harriet”  podcast which serves as a companion piece to the feature film “Harriet” released in November 2019. It takes a deeper dive into the life of Tubman, the African American experience in the 19th century, and the impact that Tubman and others like her made in the history of our country. The podcast was produced by seasoned NPR and public radio professionals Tanner Latham and Tanya Ott, and is sponsored by Virginia is for Lovers.

Who Lived this History? The Combahee Raid” on the wonderful Lowcountry Africana website uses newspaper reports, planter statements and Freedmen’s Bank Records to compile a list of some of the enslaved people who were freed during this raid.

The Breathtaking Courage of Harriet Tubman,” TED Lesson by Jannell Hobson, Posted 24 July 2018, 4 minutes 48 seconds video.

The Combahee Ferry Raid” entry for On This Day series, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, no date.

Harriet Tubman: A Resource Guide compiled by the Library of Congress

Harriet Ross Tubman Day Declared in Delaware on March 10, 2017

New York History Net: “Harriet Tubman Home” by the Harriet Tubman Home in Albany, NY, 1997.

PBS: Africans in America, People and Events, Harriet Tubman by WGBH, 1998, 1999.

View Tubman’s claim for compensation of her services as a scout, cook, nurse and spy during the Civil War is housed at the National Archives.

The History Channel highlights 6 videos and 3 photo galleries about Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid,” by James DeWolf Perry, Tracing Center website.  The Tracing Center’s “mission is to create greater awareness of the extent of the nation’s complicity in slavery and the transatlantic slave trade and to inspire acknowledgement, dialogue and active response to this history and its many legacies. We do this for the purpose of racial justice, healing, and reconciliation, for the benefit of all.”

Combahee River Raid – 150th Anniversary” by Grace Morris Cordial, Beaufort District Collection Connections blog includes a transcription of the Commanding officer’s report to Major-General David Hunter, Commanding Tenth Army Corps, Department of the South as given in the Supplement to the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, volume 14, serial 20, p. 104. 

Historians for Tubman on the $20“, Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, 13 August 2018 is an audio interview with historians Elizabeth Cobb and Catherine Clinton (Approximately 21 minutes).

Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill?” by Matthew Wills , 22 May 2015 JSTOR Daily.

Anti-slavery Activist Harriet Tubman to replace Jackson on $20 Bill” by Gregory Korte, USA Today, 21 April 2016.

Treasury Decides to Put Harriet Tubman on $20 BillNPR, 20 April 2016.

Harriet Tubman will be Face of the $20

Trump: Tubman on the $20 bill is ‘pure political correctness‘” by David Wright, CNN, 21 April 2016.

Album with rare 1860s photo of Harriet Tubman sells for $161G” Associated Press, 30 March 2017.

Beaufort SC and Surrounding Sea Islands Women’s History Sites by Peggy Thompson includes links to original documents and short essays about Harriet Tubman, Laura Towne, Ellen Murray, and other missionary teachers and nurses during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

If you like are a heritage tourist, then check out the website and itineraries related to the Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Delaware.

Check out these materials from the SCLENDS consortium libraries:

Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, portrait of an American hero by Kate Clifford Larson, 2004.

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton, 2004.

Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory and History by Milton C. Sernott, 2007.

A Woman called Moses [DVD] by Paul Wendkos, 1991.

Freedom Comin’ [DVD] : A Gullah Kinfolk Wish by Anita Singleton-Prather, 2006.

Combahee River Raid: Harriet Tubman & Lowcountry Liberation by Jeff Grigg, 2014.

Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War by Scott Christianson, 2010.

The Dedication of the Harriet Tubman Bridge : [Saturday,] October 18, 2008  [DVD], 2008.

Great Women in American History, V.1 [DVD] by Devin Stead, 1996.

Legendary Locals of Hilton Head by Barbara Muller, 2013.

Hidden History of Hilton Head by Alice E. Sink, 2010.

If you have a valid Beaufort County Library (SC) card, search Hoopla and CloudLibrary for additional resources.

Visit the Beaufort District Collection to see these items:BDC Panel Logo with Tagline JPG

Tubman, Harriet (1820-1913) [BDC Vertical File] includes among other clippings an English translation of “Gender, Race, and the Idea of Separate Spheres: Neo-Abolitionist Work in South Carolina Sea Islands,” by Wakako Araki originally written in Japanese. Japanese Association for American Studies , no. 19, 2008; “Doing ‘Good Brave Work’: Harriet Tubman’s Testimony at Beaufort, South Carolina” by Benjamin Guterman, Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Fall 2000, pp. [154] – 165; and, photocopies of some National Archives materials among other clippings.

Combahee River Raid, 2 June 1863 [BDC Vertical File]

Combahee Ferry Historic District [BDC Vertical File]

SC PRINT #43 “Raid of Second South Carolina Volunteers (Col. Montgomery) among the rice plantations on the Combahee, S.C,” Harper’s Weekly, July 4, 1863.

B TUBMAN Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson, 2004.

SC 305.896 MAT The Materiality of Freedom: Archaeology of Post Emancipation Life edited by Jodi A. Barnes, 2011. See the chapter “Excavating Inspiration: Archaeology at the Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn, New York,” by Douglas Armstrong, pp. 263-276.

SC 305.8961 FRE Freedom Comin’  : A Gullah Kinfolk Wish [DVD] by Anita Singleton-Prather, 2006.

SC 306.3621 GRI 2014 Combahee River Raid: Harriet Tubman & Lowcountry Liberation by Jeff Grigg, 2014.

Combahee River Raid, Harper’s Weekly, 4 July 1863 (Beaufort District Collection Print #43)

SC 624.27579 DED The Dedication of the Harriet Tubman Bridge : [Saturday,] October 18, 2008 [DVD], 2008.

SC 920.07579 MUL Legendary Locals of Hilton Head by Barbara Muller, 2013.

SC 975.799 SIN Hidden History of Hilton Head by Alice E. Sink, 2010.

Note: The Beaufort District Collection (BDC) exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of the South Carolina lowcountry wedged between the Combahee (pronounced “Kum’ bee”) and Savannah Rivers.  BDC staff and docents are stewards who collect, protect and share unique historical materials about local history, Gullah culture, natural southeastern coastal environment, family history and archaeology of the area now covered by Beaufort County, Hampton County and Jasper counties in South Carolina.

Contact the Beaufort District Collection at 843-255-6446 or e-mail for additional information about local history and archives relating to the people, places, and themes of the history, culture, and natural environment of Beaufort County, Jasper County and Hampton County, South Carolina.

Current hours of operation are listed on the Beaufort County Library website.

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