Frederick Douglass, the notable abolitionist, orator and author who escaped slavery in the 19th century, was also a newspaperman.
And now, the newspapers Douglass edited are available for free online through the Library of Congress.
On Saturday, the library tweeted, “NEW ONLINE: We have just made available newspapers edited by Frederick Douglass.”
The newspapers were published between 1847-1874.
The first issue of The North Star, a paper Douglass founded and edited, had the motto “Right Is of No Sex–Truth Is of No Color–God Is the Father of Us All, and All We Are Brethren” printed across the front page.
That issue of the paper was published in 1847 and is among 568 issues now available online through the library.
“Douglass believed in the importance of the black press and in his leadership role within it, despite the struggles of earlier black newspaper enterprises,” according to the Library of Congress.
In the newly digitized collection are issues of three papers that Douglass edited: The North Star, Frederick Douglass’ Paper and the New National Era. The first two were published in Rochester, New York, and the latter was published in Washington, D.C.
The digital collection, which was scanned from the library’s paper and microfilm collections, includes 137 issues of The North Star, which was published from 1847-1851 when Douglass moved to Rochester from Lynn, Massachusetts.
According to the library, Douglass got most of the money he needed to start The North Star from a speaking tour in England, Ireland and Scotland.
He said in a column that The North Star was meant to “promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the colored people.”
In 1851, The North Star merged with another paper in Syracuse, New York, the Liberty Party Paper. At that time the publication was renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper, of which there are 220 issues now available online. That paper was published from 1851-1860.
By 1870, Douglass had moved on to his final newspaper, the New National Era, which brought him to Washington, D.C. He was the editor-in-chief and part owner of that paper, which now has 211 issues online.
While the newly digitized collection is expansive, it is not complete. In 1872, a fire destroyed Douglass’ Rochester residence, along with 16 volumes containing issues of his papers.
“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 said on its website.
You can explore the collection of newspapers here.
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