Harriet Tubman is one of the best-known figures from 19th century American history. She famously escaped enslavement, herself, and then returned to free others. She also served with the Union Army during the American Civil War, and advocated for women's rights as well as equal rights for African Americans.
Photography became popular during her lifetime, but photographs were still somewhat rare. Only a few photographs survive of Harriet Tubman; here are a few images of that determined and courageous woman.
Harriet TubmanCivil War Nurse, Spy, and Scout Harriet Tubman. MPI / Archive Photos / Getty Images
Photograph of Harriet Tubman is labeled in the Library of Congress image as "nurse, spy and scout."
This is perhaps the best-known of all Tubman's photographs. Copies were widely distributed as CDVs, small cards with photos on them, and were sometimes sold to support Tubman.
Harriet Tubman in the Civil WarIllustration from an 1869 Book on Harriet Tubman Picture of Harriet Tubman during her Civil War Service, from an 1869 book on Harriet Tubman by Sarah Bradford. Adapted from a public domain image, modifications by Jone Lewis, 2009
Picture of Harriet Tubman during her Civil War Service, from Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman by Sarah Bradford, published 1869.
This was produced during Tubman's lifetime. Sarah Hopkins Bradford (1818 - 1912) was a writer who produced two biographies of Tubman during her lifetime. She also wrote Harriet, the Moses of Her People which was published in 1886. Both Tubman books have gone through many editions, including in the 21st century.
Other books she wrote included a history of Peter the Great of Russia and a children's book about Columbus, plus many prose and rhyme books for children.
Bradford's 1869 book on Tubman was based on interviews with Tubman, and the proceeds were used to support Tubman. The book helped to gain fame for Tubman, not only in the United States, but worldwide.03of 08
Harriet Tubman - 1880sPhoto of Harriet Tubman with Some She Helped to Escape A photograph from the 1880s of Harriet Tubman with some she helped to escape from slavery, along with members of their families. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
In this photograph first published by the New York Times in the 1880s, Harriet Tubman is shown with some of those she helped escape from slavery.
In 1899, the New York Times Illustrated Magazine wrote about the Underground Railroad, including these words:
EVERY schoolboy in his second year's study of United States history frequently meets with the term "underground railroad." It seems to have an actual existence, particularly if he amplifies his study with outside reading concerning the period before the civil war. Its line grows in definite directions, and stations seem to grow up along the way as he reads of the escape of slaves from the Southern States through the North to free Canada.
Harriet Tubman in Her Later YearsHarriet Tubman at Home. GraphicaArtis / Getty Images
A photograph of Harriet Tubman, from the published scrapbooks of Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller, 1897-1911, first published 1911.
Elizabeth Smith Miller was the daughter of Gerrit Smith, abolitionist whose home was a station on the Underground Railroad. her mother, Ann Carrol Fitzhugh Smith, was an active participant in the efforts to shelter the formerly enslaved and help them on their route to the north.
Anne Fitzhugh Miller was the daughter of Elizabeth Smith Miller and Charles Dudley Miller.
Gerrit Smith was also one of the Secret Six, men who supported John Brown's raid on Harper Ferry. Harriet Tubman was another supporter of that raid, and if she had not been delayed in her travels, would likely have been with John Brown at the ill-fated raid.
Elizabeth Smith Miller was a cousin of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and was among the first to wear the pantaloon costume called bloomers.05of 08
Harriet Tubman - From a PaintingPainting by African African American artist Robert S. Pious An image of Harriet Tubman from the painting by African American artist Robert S. Pious. Picture courtesy of the Library of Congress.
This image is painted from the photograph in the Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbooks.06of 08
Harriet Tubman's HomeHome of Harriet Tubman. Lee Snider / Getty Images
Pictured here is the home of Harriet Tubman where she lived in her later years. It is located in Fleming, New York.
The home is now operated as The Harriet Tubman Home, Inc., an organization established by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church to whom Tubman left her home, and by the National Park Service. It is part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, which has three locations: the home Tubman lived in, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged which she operated in her later years, and the Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church.07of 08
Harriet Tubman StatueStatue of Harriet Tubman, Boston. Kim Grant / Getty Images
A statue of Harriet Tubman in Columbus Square, South End, Boston, Massachusetts, at Pembroke St. and Columbus Ave. This was the first statue in Boston on city property that honored a woman. The bronze statue stands 10 feet tall. The sculptor, Fern Cunningham, is from Boston. Tubman holds a Bible under her arm. Tubman never lived in Boston, though she knew residents of the city. The Harriet Tubman settlement house, now relocated, is part of South End, and was initially focused on services of black women who were refugees from the South after the Civil War.08of 08
Harriet Tubman QuoteUnderground Railroad Freedom Center In Cincinnati Harriet Tubman Quote at Underground Railroad Freedom Center In Cincinnati. Getty Images / Mike Simons
A visitor's shadow falls on a quote from Harriet Tubman, displayed at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center In Cincinnati.