Uncle Tom's Cabins, & Other Destinations

    The forty postcards and brochures at left are from the collection of Leslie Talbott. The images on them include 2 rickety cabins that appear to be the real homes of unidentified southern blacks, 8 places in the U.S. and Canada that are identified as real-life settings from Stowe's life or her story, and 30 hunting and fishing lodges, motor courts and restaurants that appropriated the name "Uncle Tom's Cabin." They range from the early 1900s to (probably) the 1950s, and are arranged here in a roughly chronological order, although in some cases the date had to be guessed at, and postcards featuring the same places are grouped together.

    The two cards depicting rural African American living conditions suggest how comfortable most white Americans were with the inequalities that were not abolished by the Civil War. The "historical" cards suggest how careless, half a century after Stowe's novel was published, people were with both the facts of her biography and the fictional nature of her book. The remaining cards are harder to read. A few of them identify the proprietor of the establishment as someone named Thomas, but beyond that it's not clear why tourists looking for a place to stop might be tempted by the one of Uncle Tom's cabins.

Courtesy Leslie Talbott.