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Explore the Frederick Douglass Digital Newspaper Collection from the Library of Congress

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Frederick Douglass. George Francis Schreiber, 1870

In addition to his work as an abolitionist and speaker, Frederick Douglass served as the editor of the North Star,  which, as he wrote in the first issue of the paper, was a “printing-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression.” Some may be surprised to learn that in addition to the North Star, Douglass also edited the newspapers Frederick Douglass’ Paper and the New National Era. The Library of Congress has now made more than 500 issues of these three papers available on the Library’s website using the same technology used in Chronicling America. These newspapers supplement the letters, speeches, and other materials found in the Frederick Douglass Papers from the Library of Congress.

Students can browse individual issues, look at the front pages of the newspapers, or search for a specific word or phrase within the various issues. Also available is a timeline documenting the history of the newspapers and some of the events both in Douglass’s life and in United States history.

The North Star July 4, 1850

Frederick Douglass’ Paper May 5. 1854

New National Era October 22, 1874
  • Consider why it was important to Douglass that the North Star was under the complete control of “the immediate victims of slavery and oppression.”
  • Encourage students to choose a topic of interest found in these newspapers and compare how it is covered in a paper from the same time period in Chronicling America.
  • Choose a person such as William Lloyd Garrison, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, or Sojourner Truth and explore how the person was covered in each newspaper. How did the coverage change over time?
  • Consider how Frederick Douglass may have paved the way for other historically black newspapers. Explore the history of subsequent black newspapers.

How will you incorporate Douglass’s papers into your African American History Month teaching? Let us know in the comments.

Comments (5)

  1. I plan to highlight his work via family and community discussions. I recently realized my generation (generation X) has failed to share black history with our children and grandchildren. My generation did not pick up the torch from MLK, Malcolm-X, and other black leaders. We were supposed to pick up from where they left by telling the stories of the African American plight toward FREEDOM and EQUALITY. I will spend time talking to friends and family about Douglas’ natural writing abilities and how he taught himself to read and write!

  2. Ten issues? Really? This is your “collection” of newspapers published by one of the greatest people in American history? You are sitting on a large amount of material in microfilm and print archives, and this is all that you could be bothered to digitize? And you crow about this, acting like your paltry ten issues of scanned pages is some sort of great gift to the public?

    This is shameful and reeks of unconscious, institutional racism. You haven’t even transcribed anything or made it searchable. You put zero work into this and you need to do better.

  3. I am trying to view the Douglass’ Monthly from OCT 1860. When I click on the link, I am led to believe you only have microfilm for that paper. Is there a way I can access the selected newspaper online? thank you.

    • Hello, It does not appear that the newspaper is available online through the Library of Congress website. You may want to send a question through the Ask a Librarian service to the Newspaper Reading Room to ask for assistance.

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