Picturing Frederick Douglass

Picturing Frederick Douglass

Top of Mind with Julie Rose

Genes and Frederick Douglass

Episode: Genes and Frederick Douglass

  • Jan 8, 2016 10:00 pm
  • 52:05 mins

Guest: John Stauffer, PhD, Professor of English, African, and African American Studies at Harvard University  Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a leading abolitionist known for speeches as eloquent as Lincoln's or Emerson's. Frederick Douglass was also obsessed with having his picture taken. He was photographed more than any other American of the 19th Century. More than General Custer, than Abraham Lincoln, even the heroic Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Everywhere he went, Douglass popped into portrait studios to have his image made. Then he’d distribute them far and wide in his own newspapers, as calling cards, as signed souvenirs for fans. Why? Was Frederick Douglass simply vain? Or just a geek for new technology? Or did his passion for photography have a part in his campaign for freedom and justice? The answer is found in the new book, “Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American.”