Recent Archon Additions: Frederick Douglass Miscellany

Staff at the Amistad Research Center have ramped up their efforts to make finding aids available online to facilitate global research access to our vast manuscripts holdings.  Several recent additions highlighted here involve the great abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass.

The Frederick Douglass letters represent a small collection of Douglass’ correspondence written in his later years.  In one eight-page letter Douglass wrote while traveling in Paris in 1886 to “friends Hayden and Watson,” he offers his views on topics ranging from Alexander Dumas, the several great museums of Paris, and the recent death of President Chester A. Arthur.  He also compares the standards of behavior of French politicians favorably in contrast to their American counterparts: “I saw no one squirting tobacco, smoking, or his feet above the level of his head as is sometimes seen in our National Legislature.”

The collection of Paul and Gracia Hardacre includes a 1901 letter from Booker T. Washington, who thanks William B. Hoswell of Chicago for his donation of the dressing gown and smoking cap worn by Frederick Douglass at the Chicago World’s Fair to the Tuskegee Institute. This collection also includes an item of personal correspondence from Douglass’ daughter, Rosetta Douglass Sprague. The collection also includes a collected autograph from Douglass as well as a photograph of the man.

On a related note is the scrapbook of Joseph E. Roy, which is primarily devoted to his chairmanship at the World’s Congress on Africa at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair). This scrapbook includes several clippings about Douglass’ appearance at the Exposition, as well as his address at the 1895 annual meeting of the American Missionary Association.

Finally, the Rae Dalven radio drama script, written in 1952, consists of a short dramatization based on the efforts of Douglass and his daughter, the aforementioned Rosetta, to enter the previously-segregated Seward Seminary in Rochester, New York.

In these collections and more, Frederick Douglass is just one of many great American historical figures who lives on at the Amistad Research Center.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

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