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March 5,


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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Online Douglass collection planned

The University's collection of writings by Frederick Douglass--including the recent addition of an 1865 letter from the abolitionist and publisher--will be moving online as part of an effort to boost the University's status as a center for scholarship about Douglass.

"We want to send a message that this is the place where Douglass is important," says Larry E. Hudson, Jr., director of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies. "But this effort doesn't have to be only about Douglass because he is part of a dynamic group of people who were dedicated to similar ends. It's Douglass and his world."

The Douglass Institute and University Libraries have begun transcribing more than 230 pages from the University's collection of Douglass correspondence. With the recent acquisition of the 1865 letter, the collection of correspondence has grown to about 100 pieces.

The letters held by the University date from before the Civil War, when Douglass was editor of North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper published in Rochester, to a few years before his death in 1895. They were given by various donors or purchased. The collection also includes photographs and copies of Douglass's newspaper.

"We have the technology to make the materials available," says Ronald F. Dow, the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. "These are powerful words and images that will be put in context so that anyone can use them."

Plans call to have scanned images of actual letters with links to their transcriptions.

Almost half of the current Douglass holdings have been transcribed. A special program will be designed for undergraduate and graduate students to work with Douglass materials and develop ways to increase knowledge of him.

A partial listing of letters written by Douglass is available online at

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