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The Frederick Douglass Papers documents the life and work of the most influential and best-known African American of the 19th century. This online resource will ultimately contain all of the content of the multi-volume Yale University Press print edition of Douglass’s speeches, autobiographies, correspondence, and other writings and adds to this a powerful XML-based search functionality, linked cross-references, and the ability to navigate topically, chronologically, or by series volume. Additional resources by and about Douglass will be added to this website in years to come to assist both the experienced scholar and the general reader to learn more about Douglass’s many accomplishments.

Explore the Volumes

Autobiographical Writings, Volume 1, Narrative
This volume contains the first and most famous of Frederick Douglass’s three autobiographies, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. First published in Boston in 1845, only seven years after Douglass’s escape from bondage, the Narrative provided the foundation for its author’s antebellum reputation as a writer. Douglass went on to write two more autobiographies, becoming one of a very small number of nineteenth-century Americans to publish more than one account of their lives. His books provide an unparalleled record not only of the events of his life but also of his shifting perceptions of the complex worlds of slavery and freedom that he inhabited. The autobiographies reflect the differences in his age (the first was written when he was twenty-seven, the last when he was in his seventies), his memory, and his objectives at the various times of his writing. This authoritative edition of Douglass’s first autobiography is comprehensively annotated and is accompanied by reproductions of historical documents relating to its publication and critical reception. The volume includes a series introduction, volume introduction, historical annotation, and appendixes.
Correspondence, Volume 1: 1842-1852
This volume of The Frederick Douglass Papers represents the first of a four-volume series of the selected correspondence of the great American abolitionist and reformer. Douglass's correspondence was richly varied, from relatively obscure slaveholders and fugitive slaves to poets and politicians, including Horace Greeley, William H. Seward, Susan B. Anthony, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The letters acquaint us with Douglass’s many roles—politician, abolitionist, diplomat, runaway slave, women’s rights advocate, and family man—and include many previously unpublished letters between Douglass and members of his family. Douglass stood at the epicenter of the political, social, intellectual, and cultural issues of antebellum America. This collection of Douglass’s early correspondence illuminates not only his growth as an activist and writer, but the larger world of the times and the abolition movement as well.
Correspondence, Volume 2: 1853-1865
A second volume of the collected correspondence of the great African-American reformer and abolitionist features correspondence written during the Civil War years. The second collection of meticulously edited correspondence with abolitionist, author, statesman, and former slave Frederick Douglass covers the years leading up to the Civil War through the close of the conflict, offering readers an illuminating portrait of an extraordinary American and the turbulent times in which he lived. An important contribution to historical scholarship, the documents offer fascinating insights into the abolitionist movement during wartime and the author’s relationship to Abraham Lincoln and other prominent figures of the era.