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New Books on Frederick Douglass at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 8th, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

The life of Frederick Douglass is infinitely compelling.  Born enslaved, he barely knew his mother, who died when he was young, and never knew his father.  As a young man he escaped enslavement to become a prominent activist and one of the finest orators of the 19th century.

With the publication of David Blight’s new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, it seemed an appropriate time to share the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s extensive book collection on Frederick Douglass. 

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
David W. Blight

Cover of book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, showing a color portrait of Douglass

An award winning author, David W. Blight has written what is called the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass. 

Frederick Douglass: A Life in Documents
Frederick Douglass

Cover of book Frederick Douglass: A Life in Documents, showing a portrait of a young Douglass

The University of Virginia Press describes Douglass as “the most prominent African American activist of the nineteenth century.”  His life is well documented and he left behind a vast amount of documentary evidence on his life in slavery and achievements in freedom. This volume gathers and interprets valuable selections from a variety of Douglass’s writings, including speeches, editorials, correspondence, and autobiographies.  This book is part of the series: A Nation Divided: Studies in the Civil War Era. 

Picturing Frederick Douglass:
An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s
Most Photographed American
John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier

Cover of book Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American, showing a color portrait of a middle aged Douglass

Paging through this volume the reader is overwhelmed by the quantity, and the variety of photographs.  This rich collection shows Douglass from his youth to old age.  Highly recommended.

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass & Abraham Lincoln
John Stauffer

Cover of book Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass & Abraham Lincoln, showing portraits of Douglass and Lincoln

This dual biography looks at the life of two men, both self-made, who rose to prominence from the unlikely sources; Lincoln from poverty and Douglass from slavery. 

John Brown:
An Address by Frederick Douglass, at the Fourteenth Anniversary of Storer
College, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, May 30, 1881.
Frederick Douglass

Cover of book titled John Brown: An Address by Frederick Douglass, at the Fourteenth Anniversary of Storer College, Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, May 30, 1881

Frederick Douglass was the keynote speaker for Decoration Day, May 30, 1881, at Storer College.  It was also the 14th anniversary of the college, the first institution of higher learning for African Americans in West Virginia, as well as the Storer College commencement.  This speech, printed here in its entirety, is one of the most important speeches on John Brown. 

Two Autobiographies:
My Bondage and My Freedom
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

My Bondage and My Freedom Book Cover, showing a portrait of a younger Frederick Douglass
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Book Cover, showing a portrait of Douglass when he was older

Frederick Douglass wrote three autobiographies during his lifetime; two of them, My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, examine different times in the author’s life.  The first, My Bondage and My Freedom, published in 1855, expands on his first autobiography, The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, and recalls his life as a slave.   The second book, Life and Times, looks at the latter part of his life. 

To see these books, and others on the life of Frederick Douglass, please visit the West Virginia and Regional History Center.  Several of these books are currently on display on our New Arrivals shelf.  

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