New Acquisition – Frederick Douglass Letters

February 9, 2018

By Nancy Kuhl

The Beinecke Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of a small collection of Frederick Douglass correspondence with William L. Thomas. The materials were the generous gift of the Thomas Stevenson Whitman Family, 2017. A full description of the materials can be found online here: JWJ MSS 186.

Professor David Blight will give a Mondays at Beinecke Library gallery talk about the letters on February 12, 2018, at 4pm (details: Mondays at Beinecke).

The collection contains two autograph letters, signed, from Frederick Douglass to William L. Thomas, dated 1865 October 11 and October 17; one autograph letter, signed, from Thomas to Douglass, dated 1877 April 6; one printed death notice for Anna Murray Douglass, dated 1882 August 4; and one printed page from Harper’s Weekly, dated 1877 April 21. In Douglass’s first letter to Thomas, he requests that Thomas organize a November 27 meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts of fellow abolitionists to discuss his concern for freed slaves in the South due to their lack political power. The second letter to Thomas clarifies that Douglass meant to request a meeting for October 27 and Douglass writes that he looks forward to his time in Plymouth. Thomas’s letter to Douglass contains words of congratulations for the occasion of Douglass’s Presidential appointment of U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia and mentions that Wendell Phillips gave a lecture in Plymouth a few days earlier. Anna Murray Douglass’s death notice states that she died at sixty-nine years old on Friday morning, 1882 August 4, after a four week illness caused by a stroke that left her paralyzed; and it contains words of invitation to attend a funeral at the Douglass residence on August 6. The printed page from Harper’s Weekly is an article on Douglass’s appointment of U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia.