The Sutliff Document Collection, housed at the Sutliff Museum, contains over 850 works on paper which include the business and personal letters of men from the national, state, and local anti-slavery societies as well as the business and personal letters of the Sutliff family. In addition to these letters, the Collection holds anti-slavery society pamphlets and advertising material, court documents, land deeds, and newspaper clippings.
Since most of the artifacts and documents were donated to the museum in 1971, the effort to preserve them includes organizing them into thematic folders and boxes and storing them in a cool, dry space. While these efforts have allowed for short-time sustainability, the Sutliff Museum, seeing the national significance of these documents and artifacts, hopes to develop a long-term preservation plan to ensure the survival of these items for research, educational and exhibition purposes. Part of the long-term preservation plan is to allow access to the collection from our website with the help of the Museum's collection software, PastPerfect.
The Sutliff Museum is a memorial to Levi Sutliff and his wife, Phebe Marvin Sutliff. They were station masters on the Underground Railroad. Levi was also one of the founding members of the National Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia in 1833 and help founded the Trumbull County Anti-Slavery Society. Their daughter, Phebe Temperance Sutliff, left an endowment to the Warren Library Association in order to create this museum in their honor. Her hope for the museum was that it would not only honor her parents, but that it would also serve as a means to educate the public on Victorian living and the Underground Railroad. Many of the artifacts in the Museum came from the Sutliff home. Other items are of the Victorian period, but were donated by other people.
The room where the Museum is located is designed to show the furnishings, traditions, and atmosphere of the time, the Victorian Era. All furniture pieces, except for the display cabinets, are representative of pieces that would be found in a home at the turn of the century. The wallpaper was selected from a Victorian pattern book and the carpet was woven in Spain by a British company. Both reproduce a Victorian design but the colors were chosen to appeal to 1970s taste. Items from the Sutliff home include the Vernon desk, "flow blue" dishes made in Staffordshire, England, coin silver spoons, and various books and clothing articles. One of the most interesting pieces in the permanent collection an iron hobble, which was removed from a fugitive slave by Levi Sutliff. The objects from the Sutliff home show that they were not only an influential family in Trumbull County, but a well-off family as well.
This exhibit is located outside of the Sutliff Museum. It gives a glimpse into the historical realities
concerning local anti-slavery sentiments from the 1820s to the 1850s.
The display has four sections:
Local historian, Wendell Lauth, researched and selected the informational content of the exhibit. On display are photographs, maps, and reproductions of newspapers, articles, and original historic documents including correspondence from the Sutliff Family Letter Collection and a slave auction broadside.