At last year’s Washington Antiquarian Book Fair there was an image of Frederick Douglass I had never seen before glued into a 19th century photo album. Its provenance was from a private collection somewhere in upstate New York. The seller wanted $1,000. I would rather put that towards an original copy of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I kept it moving.
Over the past year I have become familiar with some of the locations in Washington, DC that house Douglass material from Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center to the Library of Congress to the National Archives to the Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library. Beyond the city limits there are Douglass materials in special collections at the University of Rochester, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, and elsewhere. One of theses places elsewhere is Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Institute which has material I have never seen before in all my previous reading and research.
No doubt the academics love themselves some Frederick Douglass. But the true eternal power of his life will always be renewed and best honored in the hearts and minds of young school aged boys and girls coming up in communities from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Rochester to Baltimore to Washington, DC to the rural hamlets down south in Alabama and Georgia who for the first team discover and find inspiration in one of America’s greatest native sons.