Playing cards, Uncle Tom's Cabin

Playing cards, Uncle Tom's Cabin

Playing cards, Uncle Tom's Cabin, ca. 1853


Benjamin A. Hewitt, Patricia E. Kane, Gerald W.R. Ward. The Work of Many Hands: Card Tables in Federal America, 1790-1820. New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Art Gallery, 1982.

Chatto, William Andrew. Facts and Specutlations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards. London: J. R. Smith, 1848. [Special Collections]

Jeffrey, Julie Roy. The Great Silent Army of Abolitionism: Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement.University of North Carolina Press, 1998. 

Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Oxford University Press, 1993. 

Morgan, Jo-Ann. Uncle Tom's Cabin as Visual Culture. University of Missouri Press, 2007. 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin. W.W. Norton, 2007.


1. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century. Discuss the relationship between the illustrations on the cards and those in the early editions of the novel. Discuss what parts of the novel or which characters were chosen to be illustrated and how they helped shape readers' understanding of the novel. See Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture.[Interactive website with enormous amounts of information]

2. Uncle Tom's Cabin became well known through music and stage adaptations. Discuss the antebellum stage renditions and their relationship to the already established tradition of minstrel shows. 

3. What are the card games that people played in the middle of the nineteenth century? And what were some of the religious critiques of some of those games. 

4. These were playing cards. Discuss the social circumstances in which people played cards ranging from childhood games in the home to men's games in taverns. In what ways did card playing reveal social status?

Playing cards, Uncle Tom's Cabin