Exhibit in Special Collections Honors Frederick Douglass, Black History Month
signed copy of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
Signed copy of “My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass

An exhibit in Hodges Library honors America’s great abolitionist, educator, and statesman Frederick Douglass (c. 1817–1895) and encourages us to delve deeper into our country’s complex history of slavery and racism.

The exhibit in the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, 121 Hodges Library, includes rare books and unique items from the Libraries’ manuscript collections:

  • A signed copy of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass. The second of three autobiographies written by Douglass, the narrative depicts in greater detail his transition from bondage to liberty.
  • Memphis Freedman Bureau Report, 1864. Captain T.A. Walker lists some of the grievances experienced by freedmen including problems with housing, education, and cases of sickness at the Freedmen’s Hospital.
  • Stephen B. Jones Bill of Sale, 1846. The bill documents a transaction between Stephen B. Jones of Mississippi and John W. Dillahoy of Tennessee in which Jones sold Dillahoy six slaves for $1,800. These slaves included an African-American family of four and a Native American woman and her son.
  • Memphis Freedman Bureau illustration. A color newspaper illustration depicting the Office of Freedmen’s Bureau in Memphis, Tennessee, cixrca 1866–1868. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands offered assistance to newly emancipated slaves after the Civil War.
  • Petition to Abolish Slavery, undated. The petition, signed by residents of Bedford County, asks the Tennessee Legislature to pass a law that will free the state’s enslaved peoples and their descendants.
  • Photograph of African-American soldiers. The photograph depicts African American soldiers at a Civil War camp in Johnsonville, Tennessee. Over 180,000 free African Americans and runaway slaves served during the Civil War.
  • The Southern Patriot, 1964. The Southern Patriot was a progressive newspaper, which ran from 1942 to 1976, advocated for desegregation before and after the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Album of Knoxville College and other missions among the Freedmen of the United Presbyterian Church, 1901. Established in 1875, Knoxville College was dedicated to educating Tennessee’s African American population.
  • Ex-Slave Bounty and Pension Association Certificate of Membership. Membership fees and dues were used to aid in legislation that would provide compensation and reparations for the unpaid labor and suffering of ex-slaves.

February is Black History Month, and Douglass Day is celebrated on February 14.

Join UT’s Douglass Day celebration:

Transcribe-a-thon featuring Frederick Douglass’s correspondence from the Library of Congress
Wednesday, Feb. 14, noon – 3 p.m., McClung Tower 1215/1216

Plenary Talk by Vanessa Holden, associate professor of history, University of Kentucky
Thursday, Feb. 15, 4:30 p.m., Hodges Library Auditorium