Frederick Douglass Digital Collection from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has digitized a number of its collections, making it accessible to the public at all times. Being in Rochester, today we highlight the collection of papers from abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery and went on to become one of the most famous public speakers in the United States. The papers in this collection span the years of 1862 to 1865.

The collection is organized in the following series:

  • Diary. A single diary that Douglass kept during his tour of Europe and Africa, 1886-87.
  • Family Papers. A highlight is the biography of Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s wife of forty-four years, written by their daughter, Rosetta Douglass Sprague.
  • General Correspondence.  Includes letters Douglass received from prominent reformers and politicians, including Susan B. Anthony, Grover Cleveland, William Lloyd Garrison, Benjamin Harrison, Russell Lant, Gerrit Smith, and Ida B. Wells.
  • Subject File.  Reveals Douglass’s interests in diverse subjects such as politics, racial prejudice, and prison reform.
  • Speech, Article and Book File.  Contains the writings of Douglass and his contemporaries in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements and includes autographed copies of editorials and opinion pieces from Douglass’ antislavery weekly, North Star, and a partial handwritten draft of Douglass’s third autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
  • Financial Papers.  Includes bank books, receipts, checks, ledgers, contracts, stocks and bonds, and insurance policies.
  • Legal File.  Holds wills, deeds, mortgages, copyrights, lawsuits, and miscellaneous legal documents.
  • Miscellany.  Includes newspaper clippings and photographs.
  • Addition I.  Includes scrapbooks that document Douglass’s role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage.

For further reading, our SORA account also has a number of books about the life of Frederick Douglass, a few copies of his autobiography, and a book about his friendship with Abraham Lincoln.

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