The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia

The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia

The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia

The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia


A new cornerstone reference for students, scholars, and general readers, on Frederick Douglassóhis life, writings, speeches, political views, and legacy.


This reference work, The Frederick Douglass Encyclopedia, seeks to place the achievements, contributions, and the lifelong body of work of the leading African American activist and abolitionist of the nineteenth century before contemporary students, scholars, and the general public. It is a work six years in the making and represents the efforts of over a hundred scholars committed to highlighting Douglass’s career as well as the wide range of individuals, groups, and public issues with which he associated. This book presents a lifetime (1817–1895) of serious work and efforts in the human struggle to fight the injustices of American slavery, racism, and discrimination against women, free blacks, and Native Americans.

Clearly, when viewed against the background of the long difficult human journey from 1800 to 1899, Douglass continues to stand as a giant of his era. In the long memory of African Americans and Americans from this same period, only the contributions from Harriet Tubman (1820–1913), Sojourner Truth (1791–1883), and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911), might compare to Douglass’s historical contributions to the advancement of African American people and to the reform of American society in the nineteenth century. The poet Robert Hayden (1913–1980) reminds us in the lines from his poem, “Frederick Douglass”:

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful and terrible
needful to man as air…

Douglass is central to the collective struggle and story of the black freedom movement in the nineteenth century. It is the hope of the editors and contributors to this reference work that contemporary students will find this volume an especially useful tool in understanding Frederick Douglass’s place in African American and American history. Douglass’s status is secure as a prominent internationally-known human rights advocate based on his decades-long work advancing the human experience from one generation to the next. Indeed, his body of work challenges contemporary students and the lay public alike to reach out and promote freedom, justice, and equality in this twenty-first century. As William S. McFeely locates Douglass in Frederick Douglass (1991), we are reminded that Douglass was “an inspired leader in the struggle to transcend the limitations of bondage and race” placed on him by the confines of a cruel and terror-filled period in American history: the late period of African American slavery and the Emancipation Era which followed. Frederick Douglass . . .

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