Frederick Douglass’ Rochester: a New (mini-)Exhibit in Local History!


Yesterday, Mayor Lovely A. Warren and County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo proclaimed 2018 as “The Year of Frederick Douglass.” In honour of the bicentennial of Douglass’ birth, the City of Rochester and various local organizations and institutions will be offering a number of programs throughout the year to celebrate the life and legacy of the famed abolitionist, statesman and orator.

A few months ago, we in the Local History division began pondering how we might participate in this momentous anniversary. One of the ideas we came up with was to create a small exhibit on Douglass in conjunction with our current exhibit on Rochester’s bicentennials and centennials.

Seeking an original theme for the exhibit, we decided to focus on Frederick Douglass’ Rochester, highlighting the spaces and places that informed his life in the Flower City.

douglass exhibit- pamphlet

Douglass once wrote that he would always feel more at home in Rochester than anywhere else in the country, and his legacy is undoubtedly felt throughout the city in which resided for a quarter of a century.

His name adorns local institutions and sites such as the Frederick Douglass Community Library and Frederick Douglass Street, while artistic renderings of him span the city from the Wall Therapy mural at the corner of Joseph Avenue and Avenue D, to the Frederick Douglass Monument in the Highland Park Bowl.

These posthumous tributes to the civil rights activist coexist with the sites and spaces that shaped Douglass’ own life here.

Frederick Douglass resided in Rochester with his wife Anna and five children from 1847 to 1872. He moved here to establish his anti-slavery newspaper the North Star, which he published in the Talman Building on East Main Street.

His skills as an orator took him to renowned venues such as Corinthian Hall, where he delivered perhaps his most famous speech, ‘What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” in 1852.

His work continued at home, where he wrote articles, coordinated Underground Railroad activities and sheltered escaped slaves. Only one of the three houses Douglass owned in Rochester (located on Hamilton Street) still stands today.

These are just some of the sites that patrons can learn about in the Local History Division’s new mini-exhibit: Frederick Douglass’ Rochester: Mapping his Tracks in Our City.

As an added bonus, we have created a compendium exhibit pamphlet so that visitors can take themselves on a self-guided tour of the stomping grounds of one of our most celebrated citizens.

Frederick Douglass’ Rochester: Mapping His Tracks in Our City will run from January 11 -August 31, 2018 on the 2nd floor of the Rundel Library.


-Emily Morry


Published in: on January 5, 2018 at 5:43 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a great idea! Few people really know the places connected with Mr. Douglas. This will spread knowledge and increase a sense of pride in the contributions people from Rochester have made to the world.

    • That’s what we’re hoping for! Thanks for the positive feedback Mr. Finn!!

  2. Have they decide when the Douglass statue will be relcoated and rededicated? Thank you

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