Images of Henry “Box” Brown

Historical images of Henry “Box” Brown are not as rare as one might imagine.  The nickname refers to a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia in March 1849 inside of box that was shipped to Philadelphia via Adams Express over the course of about 24 hours.  The “Box” Brown escape became the most sensational of the Underground Railroad stories in the years before the Civil War.  There are no known photographs of Henry Brown, but the publicity surrounding his remarkable “resurrection” (as abolitionists quickly called it) produced a number of popular book illustrations and lithographic prints. All of them can be tracked down with a simple Google “Images” search.  Here are some examples below.

The best discussion of these early images comes from Jeffrey Ruggles, The Unboxing of Henry Brown (2003).  That excellent monograph, however, is not available online.   To read organizer William Still’s account of the Henry Brown escape, see this excerpt from his memoir online, formatted as a flip book.  Or check out this online exhibition: Henry “Box” Brown or this Google Earth tour that recreate’s Brown’s journey on March 23, 1849.  All of those online tools are available within the Underground Railroad Digital Classroom from the House Divided Project at Dickinson College.