Season 2, Episode 7: Dr. Richard Bell (Stolen)

Dr. Richard Bell (Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland) is one of a handful of scholars who has received multiple research fellowships from the Library Company – first as a doctoral candidate at Harvard in 2003 and 2004, and later as a faculty member at the University of Maryland in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, Dr. Bell began work on the project matured into the remarkable new volume Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home (Simon & Schuster, 2020).

Stolen shines a light on what Dr. Bell terms the “Reverse Underground Railroad,” a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally-free African Americans from families in free, northern cities, including Philadelphia. Deeply researched yet written in an accessible, direct voice, Stolen reveals the precarity of freedom through a microhistory of five boys kidnapped and transported to slaveholding states. Dr. Jill Lepore has called it a “heartbreaking and searing account of their stories that chronicles not only the agonies and atrocities of slavery, but the fragility of freedom, and the dauntlessness of resistance.”

[K stands for kidnapper]

[K stands for kidnapper.] New York, 1864.

Talking in the Library will serve as an audio platform for researchers to share the incredible work they’re pursuing using the rich collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Talking in the Library is hosted by Will Fenton, the Director of Scholarly Innovation, and produced by Ann McShane, the Project Digital Asset Librarian at Emory University.

Logo design by Nicole Graham. Theme music by Krestovsky (“Terrible Art”).

Talking in the Library is also available on these platforms: