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Walter O. Evans collection of Frederick Douglass and Douglass Family papers

Call Number: JWJ MSS 240

Content Description

This collection contains correspondence, scrapbooks, personal papers, writings, photographs, printed material, ephemera, and other papers by or relating to Frederick Douglass. These materials document Frederick Douglass's work as an orator, author, publisher, and statesman including speaking engagements, travel, and political appointments. The collection also includes materials that document the personal and professional lives of multiple members of the Douglass family including Lewis Henry Douglass, Helen Amelia Loguen Douglass, Frederick Douglass, Jr., and Charles Remond Douglass.


  • circa 1846-1946


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

The entire collection is available in digital form.

Conditions Governing Use

Walter O. Evans Collection of Frederick Douglass and Douglass Family Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Walter O. and Linda Evans on the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts & Letters Fund, the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, and the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana, 2020.


Organized into three series: I. Frederick Douglass papers, 1842-1893. II. Douglass family papers, 1853-1933. III. Scrapbooks, circa 1861-1907.


20.33 Linear Feet ((15 boxes) + 2 broadside)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglass (1818-1895) was an abolitionist, writer, civil rights activist, statesman, and orator. Born into enslavement on a plantation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Douglass was separated from his mother as a baby and spent much of his early life enslaved by numerous individuals.

In 1838, Douglass escaped via train, eventually arriving in New York City. On September 15, 1838, he married Anna Murray, a free Black woman who inspired Douglass to seek his own freedom. They moved to Massachusetts where Douglass became a licensed preacher in 1839. He also began attending abolitionist meetings, developing his oratorical and writing skills, and engaging in protests against racial segregation. Douglass's first version of his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, was published in 1845 and became an international bestseller.

Douglass traveled internationally between 1845 and 1847, giving speeches and attending events in Ireland, Scotland, and England. After returning to the United States, Douglass began publishing an abolitionist newspaper called The North Star in Rochester, NY.

During the course of their marriage, Anna gave birth to five children: Rosetta Douglass, Lewis Henry Douglass, Frederick Douglass Jr., Charles Remond Douglass, and Annie Douglass. The Douglasses also provided resources and safe lodging to hundreds of individuals making their way through the Underground Railroad network. Anna and Frederick remained married until her death in 1882. Douglass married Helen Pitts (herself a suffragist and abolitionist) in 1882.

Throughout his life, Douglass fought for the abolishment of slavery, equality between races, women's suffrage, and many other social justice causes. Douglass's engagement with politics led to many roles, including, in 1872, being the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States.

Douglass's notable writings include Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" (1852), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), Self-Made Men (1859), Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881, revised 1892).

Douglass died of a heart attack at age seventy-seven and is buried in Rochester, NY.

Lewis Henry Douglass

Lewis Henry Douglass (1840-1908), born in Massachusetts, was the eldest son of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass. Douglass served in the Union Army during the Civil War, fighting as part of Company F in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first official African American units in the United States armed forces.

After being discharged from the Army in 1864 due to injury, Douglass worked as a teacher for the Freedman's Bureau and went on to work for the Government Printing Office in Washington D.C., serving as their first typesetter.

Douglass married Helen Amelia Loguen in 1869.

Helen Amelia Loguen Douglass

Helen Amelia Loguen Douglass (1843-1936) was born in Syracuse, New York to Jermain Wesley Loguen and Caroline E. Storum Loguen, both of whom were abolitionists. Douglass's maternal grandfather was William H. Storum, a well-known abolitionist and conductor for the Underground Railroad.

Douglass performed abolitionist work throughout her life, helping shepherd formerly enslaved individuals to safety. She also assisted her father with his preaching work and worked as an educator. In 1869, she married Lewis Henry Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass, Jr.

Frederick Douglass, Jr. (1842-1892) was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts and was the second son of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass. Douglass worked as a recruiter for the United States Colored Troop during the Civil War.

Following in his father's footsteps, Douglass worked as a publisher and an editor for many years for outlets including The North Star (later known as Frederick Douglass' Newspaper) and The National Era.

In 1869, Douglass married Virginia Hewlett in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They had seven children and remained married until Virginia's death in 1889.

Charles Remond Douglass

Charles Remond Douglass (1844-1920) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts and was the third son of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass. He was the first African-American man to enlist for U.S. military service in New York during the Civil War--he volunteered for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, in which his brother Lewis Henry Douglass also served. Douglass also served in the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry, the District of Columbia National Guard, and the Grand Army of the Republic.

Later in his life, Douglass worked in the Freedman's Bureau, the U.S. Treasury Office, and various consulate positions in Santo Domingo and the West Indies. Douglass also worked for the Pension Bureau. He retired from governmental work in 1920.

Douglass was married to Mary Elizabeth Murphy from 1866 until her death in 1879--they had six children, only one of whom lived to adulthood. In 1880, Douglass married Laura Haley, with whom he fathered one child, Haley George Douglass. Douglass and Haley remained married until Douglass's death.

Walter O. Evans

Walter O. Evans, MD (1943-) is a philanthropist, collector, and surgeon. Born in Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Evans served in the United States Navy and attended Howard University, Meharry Medical School, and University of Michigan. He completed his surgical internship and general surgery residency at Wayne State University. He retired in 2001 but continues to provide pro-bono medical services to underserved regions in South America.

Dr. Evans has spent over forty years collecting materials--including artwork, manuscripts, books, and artifacts--related to the African American experience.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

The Walter O. Evans Collection of Frederick Douglass and Douglass Family Papers was processed with a detailed folder level arrangement and box and folder listing. Unless otherwise noted in the series and subseries descriptions, the arrangement scheme for the collection was imposed during processing. Information included in the Content Description notes is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from a survey of the contents.

These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards. For more information, please refer to the Beinecke Manuscript Unit Processing Manual.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection or revisions in arrangement and description.
Guide to the Walter O. Evans Collection of Frederick Douglass and Douglass Family Papers
by Rosemary K. J. Davis
February 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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Access Information

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