Light & Verity

A life on paper

A Frederick Douglass archive comes to Yale.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

One of nine scrapbooks assembled by Frederick Douglass’s sons and acquired recently by the Beinecke Library. View full image

When Yale history professor David Blight was working on his Pulitzer Prize–winning 2018 biography of the abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass, he spent many hours researching in the home of Walter and Linda Evans in Savannah, Georgia.

Evans, a retired surgeon, had collected an extraordinary trove of Douglass’s letters, speeches, and manuscripts, along with nine scrapbooks assembled by Douglass’s sons. In July, the Beinecke Library announced that it had acquired the material for its James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection. Blight says that the material “will become available to all researchers in the world as it was to me on Walter and Linda’s dining room table.”

Evans, who is African American, said in a statement that he hopes researchers will find the collection “a wellspring of profound thought and analysis from which to construct a new path to understanding, resolution, and reconciliation for America.”

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