During his life Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass lived many lives, visited many places, made many friends and contributed his time and influence to many associations, organizations and causes. There is much of Dr. Douglass and his life untold by any biographers, especially those who are “experts” in speculation, not interpretation or fact.
An area of scholarship untouched by modern scholars, buried deep within the Journal of Negro Education, is Dr. Douglass and Education. It is one of a dozen or so areas of scholarship that has remained at least three time zones beyond the attention of inquisitive and investigatory scholars. No longer.
On a recent trip to Rochester’s Central Library I reviewed microfilm rolls of local newspapers that have yet to be digitized. The tried and true method of cross-checking indexes has stood the test of time.
Brandon Fess and other staff of the Rochester Central library were very helpful in locating a number of news clips containing information never seen before in my six or so years of closely surveying the field of Douglass Studies.
One of the more interesting items discovered was a paragraph from a late August 1874 edition of the Union and Advertiser mentioning the appointment of Dr. Douglass to the DC Board of Education, which at that time maintained a segregated system for “white” students and “colored” students.
I can’t recall coming across this before or a similar item which documents the early involvement and activism of Dr. Douglass within the DC public school system. Many know Charles Douglass was a principal and/or night school instructor in Barry Farm.
I do not believe there is a living scholar, other than Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, who has attempted to look under this gigantic boulder of Douglass Studies.
Thanks to a tip from collaborative Douglassonian David Turk of the US Marshal Service I discovered Douglass was appointed, but did not formally accept, a position on the Board of Police Commissioners. I had not known about Douglass and the school board.
Now I know, as do you. There is much research to be done to uplift the history of Dr. Douglass.
To be continued …