Hundreds of issues of abolitionist Frederick Douglass' newspapers now available online

Issues of three newspapers Douglass edited are available digitally.

January 19, 2020, 6:21 PM

Fredrick Douglass is known as a preeminent abolitionist, speaker and author, but he also had the title of newspaper editor.

Now, interested readers can get a look online at rare issues of three newspapers Douglass edited between 1847 and 1874, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Douglass, who escaped slavery in 1838, became a famous speaker and author at the forefront of the abolition movement. He founded The North Star, an antislavery newspaper, in Rochester, New York.

The goal of the newspaper, as printed in its first issue in December 1847, was to be a paper "under complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression."

PHOTO: Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), 1851-1860.
Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), 1851-1860.
Library of Congress

Douglass was a proponent for a black press, and the paper promoted black self-improvement, according to the Library of Congress. The paper also focused on abolition and equality, including supporting women's rights.

The North Star later merged with another paper and was renamed Fredrick Douglass' Paper in 1851 and continued to be published until 1860.

Douglass later moved to Washington, D.C., and in 1970 he became the editor-in-chief and partial owner of another newspaper, New National Era.

PHOTO: New national era (Washington, D.C.), July 4, 1872
New national era (Washington, D.C.), July 4, 1872. Beginning in September 1870 Frederick Douglass was the editor-in-chief and part owner of the New National Era newspaper.
Library of Congress

The New National Era had many similar values to Douglass' earlier papers, with a focus on issues like post-Civil War reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan and inequality in the U.S. In its prospectus, the paper said its mission was to be both an advocate and educator.

The archives available online include more than 568 issues although no complete collection of Douglass' newspapers is known to be available after an 1872 fire at the Douglass residence in Rochester destroyed 16 volumes.

"No complete collection of Douglass’ newspapers appears to be available, but we are pleased to share the library’s large collection of his three weekly newspapers online," the Library of Congress said.

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