New York Times corrects article about ’12 Years a Slave’ — 161 years later

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By Jethro Mullen

(CNN) — It’s a correction more than 160 years in the making.

In its Tuesday edition, The New York Times published a correction for an article that ran on January 20, 1853.

The newspaper has Hollywood and Twitter to thank for bringing the error to light.

The Times explained that the article in question told the story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Northup’s memoir, “12 Years a Slave,” was turned into a movie that won the best picture Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards on Sunday.

The problem was that the 1853 article spelled Northup’s name wrong, in two different ways. It appeared as Northrop in the body of the article and Northrup in the headline.

As the Oscars focused attention on “12 Years a Slave,” a Twitter user unearthed the old article from The Times archives, and it spread quickly on social media.

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

One of the Twitter users who spotted the mistake is Rebecca Skloot, the author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

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

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