University of Rochester

EVENT: Frederick Douglass Web Presence Enhanced by Xerox Gift

January 27, 2005

The University of Rochester Frederick Douglass Project has completed the latest phase of making historical documents and supporting materials related to the life of abolitionist Frederick Douglass available on the Internet. The scanning and researching of historical items was made possible by a $58,500 grant from the Xerox Corporation.

On the Web site of the Douglass Project, which is housed in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Rochester, there are photographs of Douglass, images and transcriptions of almost 100 letters by him, and other documents. The Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University co-sponsors the project.

The contribution from Xerox covered the last two years of work, which included the scanning of issues of the North Star and Frederick Douglass’ Newspaper, and school lesson plans developed by students at the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University.

These online lesson plans utilize documents held in the Douglass collection. The curriculum designed by the graduate students is compatible with New York State and national standards for fourth-through-12th graders.

During the last 13 months, the project’s Web site has gotten more than 118,000 hits with visitors estimated at more than 11,000. Return visitors average 364 a month.

“We’re very pleased that this grant allowed us to place a very large portion of our Douglass materials online, and that it enabled us to collaborate with other local institutions,” said Melissa Mead, manager of the project and digital and visual resources librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections. The Lavery Library at St. John Fisher College holds 147 issues of the anti-slavery newspapers published in Rochester by Douglass; digital versions of these will be available on Fisher’s Web site in the future.

Douglass (1818-1895) spent 25 years of activism in Rochester and later moved to Washington, D.C. He is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery. The letters held by the University date from 1846 to a few years prior to his death.

The University of Rochester Frederick Douglass Project can be found online at