About the Frederick Douglass Papers


The Frederick Douglass Papers collects, edits, and publishes in books and online the speeches, letters, autobiographies, and other writings of Frederick Douglass.

The project's primary aim has been to make the surviving works by this iconic African American figure accessible to a broad audience, much as similar projects have done for the papers of notable white historical and literary figures. As such, the Frederick Douglass papers is one of the few major documentary editing projects in progress devoted to an African American figure, the others including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers at the University of California-Berkeley, the Freedman and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland, and the Harriet Jacobs Papers at Pace University.

The original heart of the project is the publication by Yale University Press of fifteen volumes of the most historically significant of Douglass’s works; nine of these volumes have so far been published plus several ancillary paperback volumes. In recent years the project has also begun utilizing the internet to make both its electronic texts of Douglass’s works as well as research tools related to Douglass accessible to an even broader audience.

Digital Edition Purpose

The Frederick Douglass Papers documents the life and work of the most influential and best-known African American of the nineteenth century. This online resource will ultimately contain all of the content of the multi-volume Yale University Press print edition of Douglass’s speeches, autobiographies, correspondence, and other writings and adds to this a powerful XML-based search functionality, linked cross-references, and the ability to navigate topically, chronologically, or by series volume. Additional resources by and about Douglass will be added to this website in years to come to assist both the experienced scholar and the general reader to learn more about Douglass’s many accomplishments.


All events are free and open to the public.




4th Annual Madame C.J. Walker/Frederick Douglass Symposium
October 20-21, 2016

2nd Annual Madame C.J. Walker/Frederick Douglass Symposium
October 9-10, 2014


IUPUI Staff:

John R. McKivigan, Editor: Mary O'Brien Gibson Professor of United States History, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts. McKivigan specializes in antebellum America, Civil War studies, American ethnic history, and American working class history. He has been a member of the staff of the Frederick Douglass Papers Edition almost since its inception at Yale University in 1973. His publications include The War against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches (1984); On Strike for Respect (1985) coeditor, The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series I, Vols. II-V, Series II, Vols. I, II (1982-2003); editor, The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series II, Vol. III (2012) and Series III, Vol. I (2009); editor, James Redpath, The Roving Editor; or, Talks with Slaves in the Southern States (1996); coeditor, The Historical Moment: Biographical Essays on American Character and Regional Identity (1994); Antislavery Violence: Slavery, Racial, and Cultural Conflict in Antebellum America (2000); Encyclopedia of Antislavery and Abolition (2006); Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America (2008); In the Words of Frederick Douglass (2012) and numerous articles. His research has been supported by fellowships and grants from many sources, including the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jeffery A. Duvall, Associate Editor: ​Duvall holds a doctorate in history from Purdue University. His research focuses on 19th and early 20th century social history, rural life, tobacco farming, gender, family studies, the history of class in the United States, and the Ohio River valley. His publications include book reviews, book chapters, and articles. He is the 2010 recipient of the Kentucky Historical Society's Richard H. Collins Award. He is the associate editor of the forthcoming second volume of Frederick Douglass's Correspondence (Series 3, vol. 2: 1853-1865). He has been with the Frederick Douglass Papers since 2013.

Heather L. Kaufman, Research Associate:

Kathryn Jacks, Research Assistant:

Lynette Taylor, Research Assistant: Undergraduate student in the History and Sociology departments of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. She is also completing minors in Anthropology, Geography, Philosophy, and Africana Studies. Her research focuses on social movements including those of labor, environmentalism, and civil rights. She has participated in several faculty-led research projects since 2013 and has worked on campus as a former research assistant for the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and current research assistant for the Frederick Douglass Papers in IUPUI’s Institute for American Thought. She has also been active on campus as an Ambassador for the Center for Research and Learning, the 2016-17 President of the Liberal Arts Student Council, and Past-President of Students for Fair Wages from 2013-15.

Additional Project Staff:

L. Diane Barnes, Consulting Associate Editor
Angela White, Consulting Assistant Editor
Lauren Zachary, Consulting Research Associate
Mark Furnish, Consulting Research Associate
Norman Dann, Consulting Research Associate

Editorial Advisory Board:

Mary F. Berry, University of Pennsylvania
Richard J. M. Blackett, Vanderbilt University
David W. Blight, Yale University
Robert Hall, Northeastern University
Stanley Harrold, South Carolina State University
Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University
Howard R. Lamar, Yale University
Robert S. Levine, University of Maryland
John Stauffer, Harvard University

Project History

The Frederick Douglass Papers Edition originated in 1973 at Yale University, as a result of consultations among the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and John W. Blassingame, Professor of History at Yale. With Blassingame serving as editor, the project began work in 1973. For almost twenty years the project was housed at Yale University, staffed by scholars at that institution.

In 1993 Blassingame turned over direction of the Douglass Papers to John R. McKivigan, a member of the project staff since 1979. Since then the Papers have moved twice with McKivigan. From 1992-98, West Virginia University housed the project, and since 1998 the Frederick Douglass Papers has resided at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) as a unit of that campus’ Institute for American Thought.

Project Publication Record

Blassingame, McKivigan, and numerous editorial collaborators have published the following volumes with Yale University Press:
Series One. Speeches, Debates, and Interviews: Volume 1: 1841-1846 (1979); Volume 2: 1847-1854 (1982); Volume 3: 1855-1863 (1985); Volume 4: 1864-1880 (1991; Volume 5: 1881-1895 (1992).
Series Two. Autobiographical Writings: Volume 1: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1999) also abridged paperback edition (2001); Volume 2: My Bondage and My Freedom (2003); Volume 3: Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (2011).
Series Three. Correspondence: Volume 1: 1842-1852 (2009); Volume 2: 1853-1865 (in press; forthcoming 2017); Volume 3: 1866-1883 (forthcoming @2019). Volume 4: 1884-1895 (forthcoming @2020).
Series Four. Journalism and Other Writings: Volume 1: Journalistic and Miscellaneous Writings (forthcoming @2018); Volume 2: Editorial Writing (forthcoming @2022).
Paperback Volumes: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (2001); The Heroic Slave: A Critical Edition (2015); A Critical Edition of Frederick Douglass’s Oratory (forthcoming @2018).