Posts Tagged Charles Douglass

Thank you Sumner School Museum and Archives for hosting “Lost History of Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools”

Image may contain: 1 personThe tradition, legacy and history of DC Public Schools is of national consequence. In the immediate years following the Civil War a citywide public school system was formalized and organized for “colored children.”

Dr. Frederick Douglass and the Douglass Family were steadfast supporters and advocates for the entirety of the school system from its teachers to its students to its administrators to its philanthropic benefactors to its supporters in the US House and US Senate.

Dr. Douglass, a former night school teacher in Baltimore, lectured to support night schools in Washington City. Charles Douglass, the youngest Douglass son, was a night school teacher in Old Barry Farm. Virginia Douglass, wife of Frederick Douglass, Jr., served as a principal in Old Anacostia.

The Douglassess supported DC Public Schools and were thusly integral in elevating DCPS in its importance both locally and nationally to the educational and social uplifting of African-Americans. The first African-American graduate of Harvard, the first four African-American women to obtain a doctorate and Carter G. Woodson are just some of those who either attended or educated within the DC Public School System. Haley George Douglass, the Harvard-educated grandson of Dr. Douglass, taught at Dunbar Senior High School for four decades.

We extend our sincerest appreciation for the work of Director Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives and for the opportunity to present on a topic of great personal interest.


Editor’s Note:

On the backroads of Sandy Spring are families and tribes who family lore tells of ancestors being taught be Emily Edmonson Johnson, a friend of Dr. Douglass and teacher at Miner Normal School. I attended school with the descendants of those taught by Mrs. E. Edmonson Johnson so therefore it is my obligation to uplift the fallen and lost history.

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Lost History of Dr. Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools” -> Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – February 16, 2019 @ 10:30 AM (17th & M Street NW – Downtown Washington, D.C.)

FD & DCPS _ Sumner Museum _ 2.16.2018

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Black Women in the World of Frederick Douglass — Dr. Georgiana R. Simpson (pt. 1)

As I walk in, out, around and through neighborhoods, communities and thoroughfares of Southeast Washington, knowingly or not, I re-trace routes Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass trode walking his community as he built community.

Known throughout the four corners of the earth, Dr. Douglass was known and respected on the muddy street corners of old Barry Farm. The Douglass boys, specifically Charles and Frederick, Jr., commanded equal and independent respect as local community activists. Nothing changes but the weather; gun play exists today on the K, gun play existed on the streets and in backyards of old Barry Farm lots off Nichols Avenue.

Within the freedman community of Barry Farm the Douglass family invested themselves to uplift fallen humanity and assist families and their young children, many being the first born free, in education liberation.

The children of Old Barry Farm include Frederick Douglass Patterson, Garnet C. Wilkinson and Dr. Georgiana R. Simpson.

Dr. Georgiana R. Simpson was welcome in the home of not only Frederick Douglass but Frederick Douglass, Jr. who lived on Nichols Avenue, today Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE, until his death, before his time, in 1892.

Dr. Georgiana R. Simpson was a playmate with the grandchildren of Dr. Douglass.

Radical black women scholars and educators who ran with Dr. Douglass are legion.


 

We will no longer let historians whitewash this history. We will no longer allow historians tell “White Man Lies” on Dr. Douglass and the young women of African descent he looked out for, mentored and counseled.

I must admit I am complicit in allowing the lies of history, or rather an incomplete history, to be advanced. I played nice for years. I continue to play nice as that is my natural disposition, but I was granted permission by W Street Douglassonians to ratchet up the radical and guerrilla tactics in uplifting fallen humanity through history.

If Prof. Leigh Fought had stayed in her lane I may not have had impetus and mandate to come through the country roads and seek counsel of descendants of neighbors of Larkin Johnson and Emily Edmonson Johnson.

I was told to not forget the country roads from whence we come, the country roads of Zion, Brookeville, Gregg, Sundown, Goldmine, Brooke, Howard Chapel and Sunshine Burger.

We, guardians of the ground that raised us up, will not knowingly allow Ivory Tower academics to disgrace the community history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass for one second longer.

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Diary tells of evening of tea & music at Rochester home of Frederick Douglass family in March 1861 on the eve of the Civil War [Never before published full account from diary of Julia Ann Wilbur, friend of Dr. Douglass from Rochester to Washington City]

Julia Ann Wilbur was a friend of Frederick Douglass for decades from Rochester to Washington City.

Women in the World of Frederick Douglass published last year by Oxford University Press has done much to advance an understanding of the consequential and expansive networks Dr. Frederick Douglass ran with, largely overlooked in existing scholarship.

Prof. Leigh Fought’s work is one of the most substantive and important books to join the canon of Douglassoniana Studies since Dickson Preston’s groundbreaking Young Frederick Douglass in the early 1980s.

Douglass’ associations and relationships with women propelled his life and elevated his worldly education from the first recollections of his widely-respected grandmother Betsy Bailey to the last conversation he ever had with his second wife Helen Pitts.

While Prof. Fought’s work places many women in the Douglass network, in documenting the collaborative working relationships and associations in the liberation struggle from the abolitionist movement to suffragist movement there are, of course, many more women to be uplifted in the pages of our fallen history.

Last fall, A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose, was published by Potomac Booksan important addition to the periphery family of Douglassoniana Studies.

The work by journalist and historian Paula Tarnapol Whitacre brings to attention an important and forgotten friend of Dr. Frederick Douglass.

According to the publisher:

In the fall of 1862 Julia Wilbur left her family’s farm near Rochester, New York, and boarded a train to Washington DC. As an ardent abolitionist, the forty-seven-year-old Wilbur left a sad but stable life, headed toward the chaos of the Civil War, and spent most of the next several years in Alexandria devising ways to aid recently escaped slaves and hospitalized Union soldiers. A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time shapes Wilbur’s diaries and other primary sources into a historical narrative sending the reader back 150 years to understand a woman who was alternately brave, self-pitying, foresighted, petty—and all too human.

Wilbur’s diary makes numerous mentions of Douglass, including March 1861 evening at the Douglass family home

Throughout Whitacre’s work there are several references to Douglass. The author alludes to the development of Wilbur’s friendship with Douglass from attending lectures to visiting Douglass in his Rochester home for an evening spent with his family listening to music and having tea.

A Civil Life cites Wilbur’s diary as the source for the anecdotal visit to the Douglass home but the full text has never been published before nor included in existing Douglass biography and scholarship. (Please correct me if in error.)

We thank the municipal government of Alexandria, Virginia for making this incredible resource available to scholars and in the same radical spirit of ladies who ran with Dr. Douglass the militant scholarship — never before published material slowly putting together the millions upon millions of pieces of the puzzle — continues like chatterboxes holding the thrown seat on the all-night 70 bus.

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This P.M. Mrs. Coleman went with me to Frederick Douglass’ & we took tea with all his family & spent the evening. It was a very pleasant & interesting visit. Mrs. Watkyes & Mrs. Blackhall & Gerty C. were there.

There was sensible and lively conversation & music. Mrs. D. although an uneducated
black woman appeared as well, & did the part of hostess as efficiently as the generality of white women.

The daughter Rosa is as pleasant & well informed & well behaved as girls in
general who have only ordinary advantages of education. The sons Lewis, Freddy, & Charles, aged 21, 19 & 17 respectively, are uncommonly dignified & gentlemanly young men.

They are sober & industrious & are engaged in the grocery business. F. Douglass is away from home much of the time engaged in lecturing. He continues a Monthly Paper & of course it takes a part of his time. It will be one year tomorrow since his little daughter Annie died under such painful circumstances, & they all feel her loss very much.

Apprehensions for her father’s safety, & grief for his absence caused her death. She was a promising child. She was 11 years of age.

SOURCE:

Diary of Julia Ann Wilbur. Rochester. March. Teusday[sic]. 12th. 1861
Julia Wilbur PapersHaverford College Quaker and Special Collections.

h/t Douglassonian Candace Jackson Gray

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Honorable Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-grandson of Dr. Frederick Douglass, recalls childhood memories of Highland Beach

In advance of Saturday’s special event at Highland Beach Kenneth B. Morris, Sr., President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, was kind enough to share a moving reflection of his adolescence spent with family members who spoke with and were embraced by America’s Pharaoh Dr. Frederick Douglass.

We thank Ken for this special glimpse into the abiding and trailblazing strength of his family’s heritage and contributions to building institutions which established the economic independence and self-determination of African-Americans.

Charles Remond Douglass

Charles Remond Douglass

My great, great grandfather, Charles Remond Douglass, named after the abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond, was the third and youngest son of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass, born in 1844.

When Frederick Douglass began to assemble the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, he was proud to say that Charles was his first African American recruit to join-up to fight against the Confederacy during the Civil War in what had now become a struggle to end slavery. Having trained for battle, however, illness prevented Charles from participating in the assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, near Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

After the war, Charles tried to establish himself in a few careers without much luck. He found a government job at the Freedmen’s Hospital then he worked as a clerk at the Freedmen’s Bureau in Washington DC. In the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, Charles played right field and was an administrator for a DC baseball club called the Mutuals, who at that time, were one on the country’s best negro teams.

It wasn’t until the summer of 1893, however, when Charles purchased 40 acres on the shores of Chesapeake Bay that he found his niche in real estate. Charles subdivided the land and began developing the community of Highland Beach that later became an incorporated town where well-to-do African Americans would come to relax without fear of being harassed by whites. It was there at Highland Beach that Frederick Douglass dreamed of spending his final days, sitting in “the tower” at the top of his home along the shore, looking out across the bay to where he had once felt the lash of the overseer’s whip and where he had finally escaped the bonds of slavery.

I have fond memories of spending my summers in that house at the beach.  When I was a little boy, I would sit in my great-great-great-grandfather’s chair in “the tower” and look across the bay to the land of his birth, which looked generations away.

Image result for fannie howard douglass

Mr. Joseph Douglass and Mrs. Fannie Howard Douglass

My great-grandmother, Fannie Howard Douglass, or Grandmere as we called her, would sit down, put me on her knee, and with dramatic flair tell me about the first time she met Frederick Douglass as a little girl in Atlanta, Georgia.

Her father, David T. Howard, was born a slave and became one of the nation’s first black millionaires, owning and operating a mortuary business. When Frederick visited Atlanta, my great-great-grandfather Howard would pick him up at the train station in the fanciest horse-drawn carriage in town. Their very tall visitor, with a shock of white hair, made quite an impression on young Fannie.

From that day forward she began referring to him as “The Man with the Big White Hair” and did so until her death at the age of 103. She had no way of knowing at the time that she would grow up and marry his grandson, Joseph. When Grandmere and I were alone in “the tower,” she would point to the land on the other side of the Chesapeake and say, “That’s where Frederick lived as a slave when he was your age.”

I was too young to appreciate the significance of her stories at the time, but now that I am older, I realize how blessed I am to carry those memories today.

Unfortunately, Frederick Douglass’s dream of sitting in “the tower” was never realized. He passed away in 1895 a couple of months before the home was completed.

 

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Frederick Douglass’ 200th Birthday Celebration at Highland Beach — Saturday, April 7, 2018

Image from our friend Jay Roberts and his visit to Highland Beach.

Renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) transformed himself from a Maryland slave to an international spokesman for racial justice. Near the end of his life, he planned to retire at a newly built summer cottage in Highland Beach near Annapolis, MD. His legacy and his family’s involvement at Highland Beach created an incorporated African American town that continues to thrive until this day. Come and explore this extraordinary community together with other Fulbright members!

The agenda includes:

  • Tour of the Frederick Douglass home, museum and the neighborhood
  • Short film on the history of Highland Beach
  • Panel discussion and a featured talk by Dr. Lawrence Jackson, Fulbright scholar and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University.

The Birthday Celebration will be held at the Frederick Douglass Home and Museum and Highland Beach Town Hall (about 35 miles from Downtown DC) and run from 1pm to 5pm. 

NOTE: A shuttle bus from Union Station to Annapolis will be available for up to 23 participants for an additional $5. It will leave Union Station promptly at 11:30am and return riders there after the event.

For more information and tickets — HERE!

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LECTURE: Our Bondage and Our Freedom: Frederick Douglass and Family in the Walter O. Evans Collection (1818-2018) [Annapolis, Feb. 23, 2:00pm – 3:00pm]

Photo of Frederick Douglass

While there have been many Frederick Douglasses – Douglass the abolitionist, Douglass the statesman, Douglass the autobiographer, Douglass the orator, Douglass the reformer, Douglass the essayist, and Douglass the politician – as we commemorate his two-hundred anniversary in 2018, it is now time begin to trace the many lives of Douglass as a family man.

Working with the inspirational Frederick Douglass family materials held in the Walter O. Evans Collection, this talk will trace the activism, artistry and authorship of Frederick Douglass not in isolation but alongside the sufferings and struggles for survival of his daughters and sons: Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass.

As activists, educators, campaigners, civil rights protesters, newspaper editors, orators, essayists, and historians in their own right, Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass each played a vital role in the freedom struggles of their father. They were no less afraid to sacrifice everything they had as they each fought for Black civic, cultural, political, and social liberties by every means necessary. No isolated endeavor undertaken by an exemplary icon, the fight for freedom was a family business to which all the Douglasses dedicated their lives as their rallying cry lives on to inspire today’s activism: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

Guest speaker: Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier

Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of Black Studies and Personal Chair of English Literature at the University of Edinbourgh and she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of American Studies published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Bernier is an esteemed international scholar, having won many notable awards. In 2010. she was the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Art History while in 2011 she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship. In 2012 she was given a Terra Foundation for American Art Program Grant for an international symposium on African Diasporic art which was held at the University of Oxford. In 2010, she was awarded a University of Nottingham Lord Dearing Award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Teaching and Learning.”

In addition to supervising large numbers of PhDs and MRes to completion, she has held visiting appointments and fellowships at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, King’s College London and the University of California, Santa Barbara, in addition to her recent position as the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Chair in Art History at the University of Memphis (2014-15) and her appointment (2016-17) as the John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Center for the Humanities in Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Bernier is a world renowned Frederick Douglass scholar and prominent author. In 2015, she published Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American. For the bicentenary of Frederick Douglass’s birth in 2018, she is preparing a new scholarly edition of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in addition to numerous other publications and activities that will include an exhibition as well as international symposia and public workshops. In 2018, she has numerous forthcoming books about Douglass’s life including, “Struggles for Liberty:” Frederick Douglass’s Family in Letters, Writings, and Photographs; Living Parchments: Artistry and Authorship in the Life and Works of Frederick Douglass; If I Survive: Frederick Douglass and Family in the Walter O. Evans Collection; and “I am the Painter:” Imaging and Imagining Frederick Douglass.

Date and Time: Friday, February 23, 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Location: Legislative Services Building, Joint Hearing Room, 90 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland

Please note: a valid photo ID is required to enter the Legislative Services building.
Event sponsor: The Honorable Delegate Cheryl D. Glenn
Program is presented by the Maryland State Archives.

[Editor’s Note: In September 2014 we attended a lecture by Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier in the Annapolis State House on the exhaustive research she and Prof. Zoe Trodd conducted in archives throughout the United States and world tracking down photographs of Douglass.]

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Bowdoin Wins NHPRC Grant to Digitize Howard Collection

Bowdoin Wins NHPRC Grant to Digitize Howard Collection
March 11, 2014 by Abby McBride.

Bowdoin continues to be a magnet for illustrious awards, with several major grants totaling more than $1.6 million awarded to faculty and programs at the College in recent months.

Christmas letter written by Howard to his son, Guy, in 1861.

Christmas letter written by Howard to his son, Guy, in 1861

Bowdoin received a grant award of $150,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s “Digitizing Historical Records” program to support a three-year project to digitize the college’s Oliver Otis Howard Papers.

Based in Bowdoin’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, the project will reproduce the entire contents of the O.O. Howard Papers (which occupy more than sixty linear feet of shelf space) for online viewing and downloading. The 150,000 high-quality scanned pages will be freely available world-wide.

Howard was a Maine native who graduated in the Bowdoin class of 1850 and went on to become a Union general, awarded a Medal of Honor for his service in the war. His later activities included becoming head of the Freedman’s Bureau and superintendent of West Point, participating in Indian wars in the western United States, and serving for many years on Bowdoin’s Board of Trustees. Over the course of his life, Howard exchanged letters with more than 14,000 people, including notables involved in social reformation, the military, politics, law, religion, education, literature, journalism, and the arts. The luminaries with whom he corresponded included Henry Ward Beecher, Andrew Carnegie, Dorothea Dix, Frederick Douglass, James A. Garfield, Sojourner Truth, and Theodore Roosevelt.

O. O. Howard's 1854 commission as an officer, signed by then-Secretary of State Jefferson Davis

O. O. Howard’s 1854 commission as an officer, signed by then-Secretary of State Jefferson Davis

Howard’s trove of letters, scrapbooks, speeches, diaries, and photographs attracts researchers in a wide range of disciplines. The documents not only provide insight into the events of Howard’s varied career, but also reflect his personal life as a member of a distinguished Maine family, his active social involvement, and his progressive ideas on topics such as African-American welfare and education for disadvantaged populations.

For reasons such as these, the Howard papers are already Bowdoin’s most in-demand collection. But thanks to the digitization project, ”we think the collection will become even more heavily used,” said Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives. “Digitization makes more people come to see the originals, to inspect them more carefully,” he said. “It actually increases traffic to the original collection.”

Obtaining large-scale funding was critical for the success of this labor-intensive project, which requires many hours of scanning images (a task that will be performed by students) and an important element of quality control, as well as specialized equipment. Bowdoin’s proposal to the NHPRC demonstrated a cost-effective digitization plan, which included the innovative technique of integrating the newly digitized material with the Howard collection’s electronic finding aid – an existing resource that provides descriptive and organizational information about the collection. “Rather than creating metadata, we’re applying metadata that’s already been created,” Lindemann said, noting that this time-saving method provides a model for future digitization projects. Electronic finding aids are not only ubiquitous within Bowdoin’s collections but also commonplace at other institutions.

Lindemann noted that the digitization project dovetails with the College’s active interest in exploring the digital humanities. “The digitized archive will be an opportunity for students and faculty to interrogate the collection in ways that they haven’t been able to before,” Lindemann said.

News and updates for the digitization project are viewable on the project website.

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Frederick Douglass hosts Liberian officials in Uniontown [Evening Star, 25 June 1880]

In the late 19th century, while Frederick Douglass lived in Anacostia, scores of notable men and women came to Cedar Hill. In conversation Monday with Mr. Donet D. Graves, Esq. about his ancestor James Wormley, I learned of a dinner Douglass held hosting officials from Liberia.

For Douglassonian scholars this should be of some intrigue because Douglass was forceful in his denunciation of “colonization” efforts throughout his life. Without getting too much into the specific history of Liberia or “colonization” efforts both nationally and in the District, I only learned a couple years ago that there was such a concentration of black Marylanders in Liberia that there was a republic named “Maryland” in Liberia. Maps of Africa from the late 18th century – early 19th century regularly reflect this. Today there is a county in Liberia named Maryland.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Without further delay, here’s the brief news item.

MARSHALL DOUGLASS entertained at dinner at his residence, at Uniontown, yesterday afternoon. Dr. E. W. Blyden, minister of Liberia to England, and Hon. John H. Smythe, U.S. minister resident to Liberia, at which dinner were also present Senator Bruce, Prof. Greener, L. H. Douglass, Robert Parker, James Wormley, Fred. Douglass, jr., and Charles Douglass.

SOURCE:

Evening Star. 25 June 1880, p. 1 Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Thank you to Donet D. Graves, Esq., a gentleman and scholar, for this helpful lead.

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Happy (belated) 172nd birthday to Lewis Henry Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s eldest & most trusted son, b. Oct. 9, 1840 d. Oct. 9, 1908

L-R_Charles Douglass, Joseph Douglas, Lewis Douglass. Courtesy LOC

Apologies about the lack of recent posts as we’ve been on multiple assignments and deadlines of late. But I wanted to take a moment to wish a Happy (belated) 172nd Birthday to Lewis H. Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s eldest and most trusted son. (Thanks to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site for the b-day reminder!)

Lewis fought for his country. He was a newspaper man. He was a labor man. He was a good uncle. He was also a member of the Legislative Council of the District of Columbia, appointed by President Grant.

Lewis also worked with the Bethel Literary and Historical Society at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church at 1518 M Street NW. He was the only one of Frederick Douglass’s four children who grew to adulthood not to have his own children, as I understand. He lived on 17th Street NW for many years. He worked closely with his father throughout their years together in Washington. He also was born and died on the same day of the same month.

While Lewis Douglass did not reach the heights that Robert Todd Lincoln did, Lewis was much the same in that he was a man on his own. An ambitious young scholar could gather enough material quite easily to write a full book on Lewis and/or Douglass’s children. We hope to see Lewis given his full measure one day.

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