About Wesley Raabe

I am an associate professor at Kent State University in the Department of English. My major current project, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin: A Digital Critical Edition,” will provide authoritative transcriptions, archival image facsimiles, and a textual apparatus for the surviving manuscript pages and for selected American publication forms of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin: the National Era version, publisher John P. Jewett’s three initial print versions, and the 1879 Houghton Osgood New Edition. The edition will feature a textual introduction, an historical collation of the manuscript and the five printed texts, and a critically established reading text that promotes the study of authorial revision and other textual alterations.

I have also completed an edition of the letters of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to her son Walt, entitled “walter dear”: The Letters of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt, which is available in the Correspondence section of the Walt Whitman Archive, has passed peer review with Nines: Nineteenth-Century Scholarship Online, and will soon (Fall 2014) join Collex resources on that site.

My research interests (outside of Stowe’s monumental work) are the broader disciplines of bibliography, textual criticism, and digital humanities. My teaching interests include American literature (through the early twentieth century), scholarly editing, research methods, African American literature, sentimentalism (American and transatlantic), modernism, and regional writing. Other publications are available on my faculty profile.

Immediately before I joined Kent State as a faculty member, I was a Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) postdoctoral fellow (2006-2008) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. CLIR sponsors an annual fellowship program that places humanities and social science scholars with PhDs in libraries. At the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities in Nebraska, I was the first project manager for Civil War Washington.

My PhD in English is from the University of Virginia. My 2006 dissertation was a web-based electronic edition of the National Era version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I was hired as an assistant professor at Kent State in 2008: I was lucky–it was my only full-time faculty interview after 3 years on the job market, and I was ready to abandon hope.

In the long-ago past (before returning to graduate school in 2012) I worked as a technical writer in various industries, mostly in the north Dallas area: toll collection, tax preparation, accounting and payroll software. I completed an MA at the University of North Texas in 1996, and before that decade I spent a brief stint in Bloomington, Indiana, in the PhD program in comparative literature.

I am originally from south central Texas, a town called Weimar, an area settled heavily by Germanic and Czech immigrants in the middle decades of the 19th century: a family genealogist has traced the Raabe family roots to those mid-century immigrants. My grandparents were bilingual, but my parents and my generation grew up with English as a first language. During my CLIR fellowship at Nebraska, I learned from Andrew Torget’s Texas Slavery Project that one of the primary draws for German settlers, including to Colorado County, where Weimar is located, was the financial opportunity afforded by slavery. This is not the version of Texas history that I was taught at public schools, but you can read more about the consensus of present-day historians here. One of my aims in editing Stowe’s work is personal, to face one of the most powerful critiques of slavery that has ever been penned—knowing full well that some of the privileges that I enjoy reflect the aftermath of slavery and the ongoing legacy of white supremacy in American national life.

5 Responses to About Wesley Raabe

  1. Phillip Denby says:

    Hi! I have a bound copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that reads the following on the title page:



    John P. Jewett and Company.
    Cleveland, Ohio:
    Jewett, Proctor & Worthington.
    London: Sampson, Low, Son & Co.

    It is dated 1851 and is bound with “Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin” dated 1853. There is a note on the inside of the front binding cover that reads “Rebound by Walker, Plymouth 1896 June”. It is in relatively good condition.

    • wraabe says:

      Mr. Denby,

      That sounds like a nice copy. Sampson Low was Stowe’s British publisher. Their illustrated edition (1853) is the same as Jewett’s illustrated edition (1853). Their paperback copy (like Jewett’s, both 1852/53) is same size as key (both have two columns of type), so they could be issued bound together.

      According to BAL, the Key was published by Sampson Low in London and Jewett in U.S. I would suspect that you have a London-issued Key (1853) bound with London-issued paperback edition (1852). The reason it has 1851 is because Stowe claimed copyright in Maine in 1851 while story was running in the serial. I have not seen a title page with 1851 on it (but I have not examined any London-issued copies yet). In any case, the earliest that the UTC copy could have been issued is late 1852.

      A Sampson copy may be more rare than a Jewett copy–of course, if title page is missing–the later re-binder may have combined an American-issued UTC with a Britain-issued Key–but WorldCat can be a bit deceptive about the comparative scarcity. Enterprising booksellers claim a lot about scarcity. But I watch eBay and bookfinder.com, and they come up for sale periodically, though seldom in bound sets.

      Here’s why I would claim paperback UTC is not extraordinarily rare:


      The Keys are relatively common. Value, of course, depends on the condition and whether purchaser is interested in both bound together. But every one of these copies of UTC is important for another reason, which I explain here:


      If you’d take a gander at pg. 96 of UTC (not Key), I’d love to know whether the passage on Topsy which is identified in that post is also in what is probably your London-issued copy–I would expect it to be.


  2. Bob Clark says:

    I have a similar one for sale except it has 285,000 . Bob

  3. John Martin says:

    I have an H.G. Bohn edition from 1852 (what’s said to be) a pirated first edition, purchased in Scotland many years ago. The text looks very much like the National Era typeset but with em dashes rather than the double-dashes. There’s a fairly unintelligible signature in pencil inside.
    If you’ve any background history on this edition, I’d love to hear it!

    • wraabe says:

      I don’t know any history of the edition off-hand. First place to check is Claire Parfait’s Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But “pirated” is no an historically accurate description. Stowe did endorse a continental English edition by Tauchnitz, but Bohn edition could not be “pirated” because there was no copyright agreement.

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