Harriet Tubman
A Life in American History
by Kerry Walters
November 2019, 227pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5568-9
$69, £54, 60€, A95
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5569-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Enslaved people were extremely active in their own resistance to slavery, frequently sabotaging work, deceiving slaveholders, running away, and even rising in armed rebellion.

Harriet Tubman: A Life in American History is an indispensable resource for high school and college students about the life and times of anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman, who exemplifies how slaves took the initiative to free themselves and others.

Harriet Tubman served a pivotal role in leading slaves to freedom in the decade before the Civil War. This biography offers a demythologized chronicle of her life and work with information about her life as a slave, role as conductor on the Underground Railroad, work as a military scout during the Civil War, and postwar activism for blacks and women.

The book provides valuable context that situates Harriet Tubman against the backdrop of the slavery debate in antebellum America, and the hardships endured by ex-slaves in postbellum America. As such, the timeframe covers nearly a full century, from the first quarter of the 19th to the first quarter of the 20th. In addition to ten biographical chapters and a short timeline, Harriet Tubman includes an interpretive essay reflecting on her importance in American history. The volume also includes an appendix of primary documents about Tubman’s life and work, a bibliography, and a number of sidebars and short commentaries embedded in the text, inviting readers to explore connections between Tubman’s life and political, intellectual, and social culture.


  • Provides readers with a comprehensive but readable account of Tubman's life
  • Provides readers with an overview of American abolitionism and the Underground Railroad
  • Explores the pivotal role of religious faith in Tubman's activism
  • Suggests several comparisons between Tubman's activism and current struggles for social justice
Kerry Walters, PhD, is professor emeritus of philosophy at Gettysburg College. He is author or editor of over 40 books, including ABC-CLIO's The Underground Railroad, American Slave Revolts and Conspiracies, and Lincoln, the Rise of the Republicans, and the Coming of the Civil War.


2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title—Choice, December 1, 2020


"Highly recommended. All readership levels."—Choice, June 1, 2020

"The 2019 Oscar-nominated movie Harriet has heightened interest in this important figure. A solid offering, with opportunity for further exploration of issues central to Tubman’s lifetime."—Library Journal, April 26, 2020

Black History Lives

This biography series explores the lives of the most iconic figures in African American history, with material that supports state standards while highlighting the subject’s significance in our contemporary world. Each volume includes a narrative of the life of each subject, a chapter on the subject’s larger cultural and historical significance, a chronology, a comprehensive bibliography, and sidebars that offer pertinent cultural connections to the worlds of social, political, intellectual, and popular culture. An appendix of primary document excerpts rounds out each volume. Readers of the Black History Lives series will gain a greater understanding of the outside events and influences that shaped each subject’s world, from familial relationships to political and cultural developments.


Series foreword Biographical narrative chapters Why X Matters chapter that explores the subject’s importance within the context of American history Timeline Bibliography Primary Source Documents “Cultural Connections” Sidebars Index
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