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New York Times Corrects '12 Years a Slave' Error 161 Years Later

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.Fox Searchlight

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More than 160 years after misspelling a now famous subject's name, a reader's tweet has led The New York Times to set the record straight.

An article first published on Jan. 20, 1853, about Solomon Northup — the free black man whose memoir is immortalized in the Oscar-winning film, “12 Years a Slave” — incorrectly referred to him as “Northrop.” The headline also identified him as “Northrup.”

Author Rebecca Skloot tweeted a link to the story Monday, which caught attention online. A correction was then published in Tuesday’s Times.

“The errors came to light on Monday after a Twitter user pointed out the article in The Times archives,” the correction said.

Despite the error, The Gray Lady added that its article was described as “a more complete and authentic record than has yet appeared.”

Coincidentally, Skloot’s initial tweet wasn’t without its own error. She said the article was originally from 1953.

“The irony, of course, is that I’m a terrible speller and proofreader,” Skloot tweeted.

— Erik Ortiz

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