Frederick Douglass: The Most Photographed Man of the 19th Century

THU, OCT 1, 2015 (43:47)

Teeming with historical detail, Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American, is a book that will revolutionize our knowledge of race and photography in 19th-century America. The book is filled with surprises. Chief among them is the assertion that neither President Abraham Lincoln, nor General George Custer, nor poet Walt Whitman was the most photographed American of the 1800s. That honor belongs to Frederick Douglass. Dr. John Stauffer of Harvard University, and Dr. Zoe Trodd of the University of Nottingham reveal images from their visual biography. As a result of their groundbreaking research, the formerly enslaved abolitionist leader, eloquent orator, and seminal writer – whose fiery speeches transformed him into one of the most renowned and popular agitators of his age, emerges as a leading pioneer in photography.

+ BIO: John Stauffer

John Stauffer writes and lectures on the Civil War era, antislavery, social protest movements, and visual culture. He is the author of seven books and more than 45 articles, including The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), which won four major awards, including the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, the Avery Craven Book Award, and the Lincoln Prize runner-up. His essays have appeared in Time Magazine, Raritan, New York Post, 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography, and The Harvard Review; and he has appeared on national radio and television shows. His new book, GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, was published in November 2008. Currently, John is completing a book with Sally Jenkins on radical interracialism and Unionism in Civil War era Mississippi. The story, Free State of Jones, will appear as a major motion picture by the filmmaker Gary Ross, with whom John served as a scholarly consultant. John received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999, began teaching at Harvard that year, and was tenured in 2004. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their two-year-old son, Erik Isaiah Stauffer.

+ BIO: Zoe Trodd

Zoe Trodd is a fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the Center for the Study of the American South. She has a PhD from Harvard University’s History of American Civilization department and a BA/MA from Cambridge University in English Literature. She researches and teaches American protest literature, especially the literature of civil rights, anti-lynching and abolitionism.

Museum of African American History
Abolitionist Series
African American Culture Series