Over the River . . . Life of Lydia Maria Child, Abolitionist for Freedom sweeps the viewer back into the social upheaval of 19th-century America and the tumultuous life of Lydia Maria Child, a popular writer of novels, children’s literature, and domestic advice whose books were burned when she entered the battle to abolish slavery with the publication of An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans. Despite increasing hardships in her personal life, Child became one of the country’s most eminent anti-slavery, Indian rights, and women’s rights authors. Later, as editor of Harriet Jacobs’s autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Child courageously faced down public outrage for including the passages on sexual brutality.
Historians today have largely ignored her contribution in shaping early America. She is remembered primarily for her popular Thanksgiving Day poem turned song, Over the River and through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go. With archival photographs and illustrations, rarely seen documentary footage, in-depth interviews, and dramatic reenactments, Over the River… rescues this important figure from obscurity, bringing her vividly to life. Along the way, the film explores Child’s involvement in the events and issues that pushed Americans into the bloodiest conflict ever fought on U.S. soil, ones that continue to shape the nation in the 21st century.