Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, 1865-1880

By Brady-Handy, via Wikimedia Commons

Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Maryland in 1818. He escaped to New York in 1838 and began an illustrious career as an orator on behalf of the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, an author of three autobiographies, a newspaper publisher, confidante of President Lincoln, harborer of slaves along the Underground Railroad. He was nominated as vice-presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party, with Victoria C. Woodhull, in 1872. and was also appointed to several Federal posts including U.S. Marshall of Washington D.C., Recorder of Deeds for Washington, D.C. and U.S. minister resident and consul general, Republic of Haiti.

Douglass was married for over forty years to his first wife, Anna Murray, a free African-American housekeeper whom he met shortly before his escape. After her death, Douglass stirred controversy by marrying his former secretary, Helen Pitts, a white woman.

Douglass never stopped working or advocating for human rights and died suddenly of a heart condition on February 20, 1895 shortly after speaking at a meeting of the National Council of Women.

  • Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress — This collection contains “7,400 items relating to Douglass’ life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895” … and “consists of correspondence, speeches and articles by Douglass and his contemporaries, a draft of his autobiography, financial and legal papers, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items.”
  • Frederick Douglass Timeline — A detailed timeline of Douglass’ life from the Library of Congress.
  • The Underground Railroad — This exhibit from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center includes an historical overview of the Underground Railroad and an exhibit of documents by Frederick Douglass.
  • University of Rochester Frederick Douglass Project — This site includes images of and letters and writings by Frederick Douglass from the University of Rochester Library as well as lesson plans for teachers of all grade levels.
  • Frederick Douglass — Listen to audio of a speech by Frederick Douglass from the Freedom Archives site.
  • Frederick Douglass National Historic Site — This site from the National Parks Service includes images, a multimedia tour, chronology of Douglass’ life, lesson plans and more.
  • American Artifacts: Frederick Douglass House — A video tour of the Frederick Douglass House from C-SPAN’s American History TV.

Teaching Resources and Lesson Plans

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