Posts Tagged Rosetta Douglass Sprague

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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Unanswered questions abound about Anna (Murray) Douglass … “The First Mrs. Frederick Douglass,” [Colored American, May 12, 1900]

colored American May 12, 1900, Page 11, Image 11-page-001

Historically, historians have neglected, overlooked and speculated about Anna (Murray) Douglass. A new book by ex-communicated W Street Douglassonian Prof. Leigh Fought has advanced research on the women in the world of Dr. Douglass, yet there is still much work to be done.

For example:

  • What do we know about Anna’s siblings?
  • What do you we know about her parents?
  • Did Betsey Bailey know Anna and her family?
  • Did Betsey deliver Anna?
  • What do we know about the friendships, relationships and associations Anna had in Caroline County, Baltimore, New Bedford, Lynn, Rochester and Washington City?
  • What do we know about Anna’s travels back to Baltimore to visit what can be presumed to be her friends and family?
  • Did Helen and Anna know each other?
  • Why do we largely judge Anna, who lived in the 1800s, with a modern temperament and prejudices?

Due to shoddy Douglass scholarship at nearly every turn and recent visits to the Eastern Shore I’ve decided to expand the areas of my research to include everything, including — since this “historical memory” thing is big — the historical memory of Anna Douglass.

The foundational document historians have relied upon for information about Anna is her daughter’s lecture, “My Mother as I Recall Her.” But if we look we can find much more, such as this article from the Colored American which details an event held by the Anna Murray Douglass Union.

SOURCE:

Colored American, 12 May 1900, page 11.

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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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Brooklyn Historical Society hosts Leigh Fought, Dec. 11, 2017 _ Book Talk:”Women in the World of Frederick Douglass”

FD statue in Rochester _ Leigh Fought bookHistorian and professor of American History at Le Moyne College, Leigh Fought, paints an alternative portrait of abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass by examining the lives of the women around him. In this latest work, Fought sheds light on Douglass’s relationships to his mother, grandmother, slave mistresses, wives Anna Murray and Helen Pitts, and many other women who nurtured, challenged, and united with him in shared struggles for emancipation, the right to vote, and equality.

Book Talk: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass
Monday, December 11
Doors: 6:00 pm
Event: 6:30 pm
$5 General Admission / Free for Members

BHS Members: to reserve tickets at the member price, click on “Tickets” and enter your Member ID on the following page after clicking on “Enter Promotional Code.”

REFUND POLICY Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. No refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a library, museum, and urban education center dedicated to the people of Brooklyn, providing opportunities for civic dialogue and thoughtful engagement.

Phone: 718.222.4111

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Family of Frederick Douglass acknowledgement of “letters and telegrams of condolence,” Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C., March 4, 1895

Courtesy Library of Congress, Frederick Douglass Papers

To the many friends whose letters and telegrams of condolence have been most gratefully received, and which have been sent in such numbers as to forbid an immediate personal reply, we, the family of the Frederick Douglass, desire to tender our heartfelt acknowledgement and thank them for their expressions of sympathy for our sorrow and especially for the testimony they have thus rendered of their reverent regard for the great soul gone.

HELEN DOUGLASS

ROSETTA DOUGLASS SPRAGUE

LEWIS H. DOUGLASS

CHARLES R. DOUGLASS

 

CEDAR HILL,

ANACOSTIA, D.C.

MARCH 4, 1895

 

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