About Frederick Douglass


Frederick Douglass, born into slavery in 1818, became an influential human rights activist of both the antebellum and post-bellum nineteenth-century world--one whose reputation endures still. 

The most famous African American opponent of slavery, Frederick Douglass's career spanned nearly the entire nineteenth century. He lectured on issues of race and gender with a power that resonated a century beyond his death. He began his speaking career with the Garrisonian abolitionists, narrating his experiences as a slave. The popularity of his speaking led to the publication of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the first of his three autobiographies, in which he told the harrowing tale of his childhood as a slave, for the first time revealing names and locations. His meeting with Ida B. Wells-Barnett convinced him to support the movement for women's equality from its beginnings at the Seneca Falls meeting in 1848, although he eventually parted ways with many supporters of woman suffrage due to the exclusion of women from the fifteenth amendment. Douglass twice toured England and published a series of newspapers to support the antislavery cause:

The North Star (1847-1851)
Frederick Douglass' Paper (1851-60)
Douglass' Monthly (1859-63)
New National Era (1870-74)

He gradually shifted his tactics from the non-political and non-violent methods of the abolitionists centered around William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, Massachusetts, to support of the Republican party of Abraham Lincoln and active recruitment of African American soldiers for the Union Army, including two of his own sons, during the Civil War. After Emancipation, and the subsequent disbandment of abolition societies, Douglass's public role changed dramatically. He continued to struggle for African American equality, but within established channels rather than outside them. He held various positions in the federal government, including Minister-Resident and Consul-General to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, having already served as president of Freedmen's Bank, and U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia. Throughout the latter period of his life, he maintained an active speaking schedule, continuing to advocate woman suffrage and equality until his dying day. After speaking at a women's rights rally in Washington, D.C., on 20 February 1895, Douglass returned to his house in Anacostia where, while recounting his morning's events to his wife, Helen Pitts, he died.



Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (mini-edition), Model Editions Partnership. Chapter 10 (the battle with slave-breaker Edward Covey) of Douglass's Narrative, complete with textual notes, emendations, historical collation, and historical annotations. A definitive on-line edition.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, University of North Carolina. A complete facsimile of the 1845 version of Douglass'sNarrative from the Documenting the American South project, with bibliography to related reading.

My Bondage and My Freedom, University of North Carolina. A complete facsimile of the 1855 version of Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom from the Documenting the American Southproject, with bibliography to related reading.

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass [1881] [1892], University of North Carolina. A complete facsimile of the each version of Douglass's Life and Times from the Documenting the American South project, with bibliography to related reading.


Frederick Douglass by Charles Wadell Chesnutt. The earliest biography of Douglass by an African American contemporary, from the Documenting the American South project.
Baxter, Geneva Hampton. 2001. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Its Context, Rhetoric and Reception. Master's thesis, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Ga.
Blassingame, John W. and John R. McKivigan, eds. 2001. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 3 vols. Vol. 1, Frederick Douglass Papers: Autobiographical Writings. New Haven: Yale University Press. Original edition, 1845.
Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: A Relationship in Language, Politics, and Memory. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2001.
Foner, Philip S. Frederick Douglass. New York: Citadel Press, 1950.
Foner, Philip S., ed. Frederick Douglass on Women's Rights. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976.
Gregory, James M. Frederick Douglass, the Orator. 1893. New York: Apollo Editions, 1971.
Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass.
Martin, Waldo E. The Mind of Frederick Douglass. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
McFeely, William S. Frederick Douglass. New York: W.W Norton &Company, 1991.
Miller, Douglas T. Frederick Douglass and the Fight for Freedom. New York: Facts On File, 1988.
Preston, Dickson J., Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.
Quarles, Benjamin. Frederick Douglass. New York: Atheneum, 1968.
Voss, Frederick S. Majestic in His Wrath: A Pictorial Life of Frederick Douglass. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.
Washington, Booker T. Frederick Douglass. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Company, 1906.
Chesnutt, Charles Waddell. Frederick Douglass. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002. Original edition, 1899.
Conference. Frederick Douglass Conference: The Public Life and Work of Frederick Douglass. At University of Rochester, New York, 2003.
Diedrich, Maria. Love Across the Color Lines: Ottilie Assing and Frederick Douglass. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000.
Douglass, Frederick. Narracion de la Vida de Frederick Douglass, Un Esclavo Americano, Escrita Por El Mismo: Texto Bilinue. Translated by J. B. A. M. Manzanas. Leon: Universidad de Leon, 2000.
———. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.Austin, Tex,: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Original edition, 1845.
———. "Your Late Lamented Husband": An Unpublished Letter of Frederick Douglass to Mary Todd Lincoln. New York, 2000.
———. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History to the Present Time. Scituate, Mass.: Digital Scanning, 2001. Original edition, 1882.
Foner, Philip S., ed. Frederick Douglass on Slavery and the Civil War: Selections from His Writings. New York: Dover Publications, 2003. Original edition, 1945.
Harris, Nikka L. Mastering the Master's Discourse: Gender, Race, and Language in the Slave Narratives of Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass. Master's thesis, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, 2001.
Heine, David. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: Joined in a "Sacred Effort". Master's Thesis, Rollins College, Winter Park, Fla, 2001.
Lutz, Norma Jean. Frederick Douglass. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.
Mackey, William Jr., ed. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2002. Original edition, 1845.
McKivigan, John R. Frederick Douglass. San Diego, Ca.: Greenhaven Press, 2004.
Mieder, Wolfgang. "No Struggle, No Progress": Frederick Douglass and His Proverbial Rhetoric for Civil Rights. New York: P. Lang, 2001.
Miller, Douglas T. Frederick Douglass and the Fight for Freedom.Bridgewater, NJ: Replica Books, 2001. Original edition, 1993.
Moses, Wilson Jeremiah. Creative Conflict in African American Thought: Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Nusloch, David. Literateness and Critical Thinking in Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, William Dodd's Narrative of the Experience and Sufferings of William Dodd, a Factory Cripple, Written by Himself, and Edmund Gosse's Father and Son. Master's thesis, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, La., 2002.
Phillips, Rachael. Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist and Reformer. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Pub, 2000.
Pickens, Ernestine Williams, ed. Frederick Douglass, by Charles Waddell Chesnutt. Atlanta, Ga.: Clark Atlanta University Press, 2001. Original edition, 1899.
Prioleau, Rachelle C. 2000. Combining Abolitionism and Women's Suffrage: The Agenda Building Process and Discursive Strategies of Frederick Douglass.
Reed-Morton, LaDonna. Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany: the Politics of Emigration. Master's thesis, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., 2002.
States, United. An Act to Authorize the Frederick Douglass Gardens, Inc., to Establish a Memorial and Gardens on Department of the Interior Lands in the District of Columbia or Its Enfivorns in Honor and Commemoration of Frederick Douglass. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.P: Supt. of Docs., 2000.
Talbot County, Historical Society of. Frederick Douglass Driving Tour of Talbot County, Maryland. Easton, Md.: Historical Society of Talbot County, 2002.
Taylor, Trachell R. Redefiing Selfhood: Examining the Self in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Master's Thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, 2003.
Waters, Carver Wendell. Voice in the Slave Narratives of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Solomon Northrup. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.
Williams, Roderick. Invisible Place: A Spatial Exploration of the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass". Master's thesis, University of Cinncinnatti, Cinncinnatti, Ohio, 2000.
Williamson, Scott C. The Narrative Life: The Moral and Religious Thought of Frederick Douglass. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2002.
Wu, Jin-Ping. Frederick Douglass and the Black Liberation Movement: The North Star of American Blacks. Garland: New York, 2000.

Especially for Youth

Becker, Helaine. Frederick Douglass. Woodbridge, Conn.: Blackbirch Press, 2001.
Burchard, Peter. Frederick Douglass: For the Great Family of Man. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003.
Byrd, Adler David A. and Samuel. A Picture Book of Frederick Douglass. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Original edition, 1993.
Collier, James Lincoln and Greg Copeland. The Frederick Douglass You Never Knew. New York: Children's Press, 2003.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: With Related Readings. New York: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2002.
Fleming, Alice Mulcahey. Frederick Douglass: From Slave to Statesman. New York: PowerKids Press, 2004.
Jackson, Dave; Neta Jackson and Anne Gavitt. Caught in the Rebel Camp: Frederick Douglass. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 2003.
Kerby, Mona. Frederick Douglass: Samuel Morse. Lincoln, Neb.: IUniverse, 2001.
Lantier, Patricia. Frederick Douglass. Austin, Tex.: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2003.
Lutz, Norma Jean. Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist and Author. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.
McKissack, Pat and Frederick McKissack. Frederick Douglass: Leader Against Slavery. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Pub., 2002.
Passaro, John. Frederick Douglass. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2000.
Rau, Dana Meachen. Frederick Douglass. Mineapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2003.
Schaefer, Lola M. Frederick Douglass. Mankato, Minn: Peeble Books, 2002.
Schraff, Anne E. Frederick Douglass: Speaking Out Against Slavery. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2002.
Trumbauer, Lisa. Let's Meet Frederick Douglass. Philadelphia: Chelsea Clubhouse Books, 2004.
Weidt, Maryann N. and Jeni Reeves. Voice of Freedom: A Story About Frederick Douglass. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 2001.
Welch, Catherine A. Frederick Douglass. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 2003.
———. Frederick Douglass. New York: Backpack Books, 2003.
Yancey, Diane. Frederick Douglass. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2003.
Bennett, Evelyn. Frederick Douglass and the War against Slavery. Brookfield,Conn.: The Millbrook Press, 1993.
Keenan, Sheila. Frederick Douglass: Portrait of a Freedom Fighter. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995.
McCurdy, Michael, ed. Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own Words. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack. Frederick Douglass: The Black Lion. Chicago: Children's Press, 1987.
Milton Meltzer, ed. Frederick Douglass, in His Own Words. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1995.
Russell, Sharman Apt. Frederick Douglass. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.


Historical Society of Talbot County, Maryland
Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
Frederick Douglass Organization
Frederick Douglass House, Highland Beach, Maryland
Frederick Douglass Memorial in New Bedford, Massachusetts
Boston Public Library

Anti-Slavery Manuscripts

The Boston Public Library holds the papers of many antislavery activists based in Boston, including letters by William Lloyd Garrison and Maria Weston Chapman.
New York:
Frederick Douglass Project, University of Rochester.Includes scanned images of Douglass's correspondence in the Post Family Papers, Frederick Douglass, and other collections at the University of Rochester. Also, some transcriptions, essays, links, and intern opportunities. "My Escape from Slavery," by Frederick Douglass, Century Illustrated Magazine, Project Gutenberg. A transcription of Douglass's escape from slavery as he first publicly told the story in November 1881.
Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center in Rochester, New York.
Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York, burial site of Frederick Douglass, Anna Murray Douglass, Helen Pitts Douglass, Rosetta Douglass Sprague, and Sprague Family
Rochester History. A journal dedicated to the history of Rochester, New York, with articles available online in PDF format.
Bird Special Collections, Syracuse University
Gerrit Smith Paper
Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester
Isaac and Amy Post Family Papers
Porter Family Papers
The Rush Rhees Library contains the papers of antislavery activists based in Rochester, New York, and includes some documents relevant to the Underground Railroad.
Washington, D.C.:
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, National Parks Service, Anacostia, Washington, D.C. Frederick Douglass's final home, Cedar Hill, now a museum in the nation's capitol.
Photos of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Home, circa 1938, New Deal Network.
Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans, 320 A Street N.E., Site of Douglass's first home in Washington, D.C., before his purchase of Cedar Hill.
Library of Congress
Frederick Douglass Papers: The Library of Congress holds the bulk of Douglass's personal papers.

Abolition and Slavery

Hypertexts by the American Studies Group at the University of Virginia
The Roving Editor, Chapter IV, by James Redpath
Excerpts from Slave Narratives, edited by Stephen Mintz
"Been Here So Long", WPA slave narratives, New Deal Network.
American Abolition Project, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
Abolition Activism in Wisconsin
African American Experience in Ohio, Ohio Historical Society.
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University
The Papers of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Model Editions Partnership
Martin Delany, West Virginia University
William Lloyd Garrison, National Parks Service
The Lucretia Coffin Mott Papers Project
Gerrit Smith Virtual Museum, New York History Net
Freedmen and Southern Society Project
Harriet Jacobs Papers Project, Pace University, New York, New York
From the Schomburg African American Women Writers of the 19th Century collection, Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library:
Biography of an American Bondman, by Josephine Brown
Memories of Childhood's Slavery Days, by Annie L. Burton
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet A. Jacobs
A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince
The Narrative of Bethany Veney
From North American Slave Narratives, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.Narratives in this collection include those of the following persons (among many others): Charles Ball, Henry Bibb, Henry "Box" Brown, William Wells Brown, Lewis and Milton Clarke, William and Ellen Craft, Olaudah Equiano, Harriet Jacobs, Lunsford Lane, Solomon Northup, James W.C. Pennington, Sojourner Truth [1850] [1875] [1884], Nat Turner, Samuel R. Ward


National Historical Publications and Records Commission 
Association for the Study of African American Life and History
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Association for Documentary Editing (ADE)
National Council on Public History (NCPH)
American Memory (subject headings page), Library of Congress and affliliated institutions.