Development of Frederick Douglass Home's Visitor Center Meeting dated March 1972
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
Kinard, John 1936-1989
Gregory, Mary E. C
Hutchinson, Louise Daniel
Douglass, Frederick 1817?-1895
Sumner, Charles 1811-1874
Brown, John 1800-1859
Tubman, Harriet 1820?-1913
Grimké, Francis J (Francis James) 1850-1937
Bruce, Blanche Kelso 1841-1898
Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865
Terrell, Mary Church 1863-1954
Frederick Douglass Memorial Home
Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association
United States National Park Service
Anacostia Community Museum
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
3 open reel 1/2 inch video recording
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Civil War, 1861-1865
Title created by ACMA staff based on title transcribed from physical asset and date of meeting to distinguish from similarly titled recording.
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.
Meeting to present design ideas for the Frederick Douglass Home's Visitor Center and provide an opportunity for community members to express their concerns. First, through a slideshow presentation, Louise Hutchinson provides an overview of Frederick Douglass' life and the impact his life and death had on the African American community. Hutchinson discusses the abolitionist work of Douglass, Charles Sumner, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Reverend Francis James Grimke, Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, Mary Church Terrell, and President Abraham Lincoln. The slideshow also includes a brief history and photographs of the Frederick Douglass Home, particularly the context of the home within Washington, D.C. Next, Project Architect Bob Nash explains how he became involved in the Visitor Center project; the necessity of creating a comprehensive site study; proposed schedule and activities; and site development needs, objectives, and ideas. The site proposal includes the Frederick Douglass Center for the Arts, Black Studies Library, Frederick Douglass Promenade, and Permanent Display and Exhibit Facility for Outstanding Black Americans. John Kinard presents ideas for Permanent Display and Exhibit Facility for Outstanding Black Americans as a place to offer workshop, seminars, library and research services, exhibitions, and films. Kinard stresses the power of history and the importance of providing context to Douglass' objects to engage visitors in thoughts and ideas of the past and present. Nash and Kinard express the need to make a visit to the Douglass Home a meaningful experience for everyone regardless of age. Finally, community members discuss their concerns - land use, economic impact, project cost and timeline, securing funds - about the development of the Visitor Center.
Community meeting. Part of ACM Museum Events, PR, and Ceremonies Recordings. Video and sound distortions throughout recordings. AV003543: Part 1. AV003573: Part 2. AV003180: Part 3. Dated 19720321.
Development of Frederick Douglass Home's Visitor Center Meeting dated March 1972, Record Group AV09-023, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
African American abolitionists
Civil rights leaders
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at ACMarchives@si.edu