Frederick Douglass Memorial Home was built between 1855 and 1859 for John Welsh Van Hook, an architect from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Uniontown (also known as Anacostia). In 1877, Frederick Douglass purchased the home and 9 3/4 acres of land, which he named Cedar Hill. Over several years, Douglass purchased additional land and converted the home into a 21 room mansion. In 1900, Douglass' second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, urged U.S. Congress to charter the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, which received the property in 1903 upon Helen's death. On September 5, 1962, the Frederick Douglass estate became a part of the National Park Service. Groundbreaking ceremonies for a visitor center were held in September 1980. The visitor center opened to the public in February 1982. Douglass' home and estate became a National Historic Site in 1988 and underwent several restorations between 1922 and 2007.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was born into slavery on Maryland's Eastern Shore but fled north in 1838 to settle in Massachussetts. He soon became an abolitionist in the antislavery movement, and by the mid-1840s his commanding eloquence in offering firsthand testimony to the oppressions of slavery had transformed him into one of the movement's most persuasive spokesmen. Douglass' reforming zeal remained strong all his life. After the Civil War put an end to slavery, he continued to be a leading defender of the rights of African Americans during Reconstruction.
Preparations for Christmas at Frederick Douglass House including cooking, candle making, and constructing tabletop wreaths and fruit arrangements. Woman prepares wool for spinning wheel and another woman stitches quilt. Man in uniform explains a canteen, cartridge box, ammunition, rifle, and pistol to a couple of children. Shots of Christmas decor including gingerbread house, cookie garland, Christmas tree, gifts, and tabletop wreaths. Exterior shots of neighborhood houses and Frederick Douglass House.
Unedited footage (b-roll) of historical reenactments. Part of ACM Museum Events, PR, and Ceremonies Recordings Record Group. Undated.
Christmas at Douglass House, Record Group AV09-023, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution