Celebrate the

Frederick Douglass 200

The New Bedford Historical Society, in partnership with several community organizations, is hosting a series of vibrant and contemporary programs celebrating the Bicentennial of the life and times of Frederick Douglass.

Born a slave in Talbot County Maryland, in 1818, Frederick Bailey would escape his chains in 1838 and become Frederick Douglass, one of the most notable men of the nineteenth century and the ideal of an American self-made man.

By the end of his life, Douglass could proudly claim to have served as advisor, political ally, and friend to six presidents, abolitionists Gerrit Smith and William Lloyd Garrison; women’s rights activists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucrtia Mott; and authors Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Frederick Douglass will long be remembered as a noted orator, writer, publisher, politician, entrepreneur, political activist, national celebrity, and historical figure. He left an indelible mark on the social, economic, and political landscape of the nineteenth century.

For more information on Douglass in New Bedford, please visit the New Bedford Historical Society.

Upcoming Events

Frederick Douglass & Literacy – Saturday, September 8th – Wednesday, October 31st, 1-4pm

Two books that witnessed almost mythical moments in American history will reunite in New Bedford. The exhibit will remain open daily 1:00-4:00 PM through October at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park MakerSpace, 33 William Street and there is no charge for admission.

In September of 1838, Frederick and Anna Douglass arrived in New Bedford a mere 14 days after escaping Maryland, and Frederick’s enslavement. Among their possessions were three books. One of them, a hymnal called The Seraph, will return to New Bedford this fall. Additionally, sometime after his arrival, Douglass purchased his first book, The Works of Robert Burns, probably in New Bedford. In 1869, Douglass gave the book to his son, Lewis, with the inscription, “from his affectionate father – Frederick Douglass Oct.15 1869.”


The Black AbolitionistsSunday, October 21st, 3-5pm

Please join the New Bedford Historical Society for a unique theatre piece at Gallery X. New Bedford was known as a place that provided sanctuary for runaways during the 19th century. Hear the voices of Frederick Douglass, Henry Box, Brown, Maria Steward, Jeremiah Sanderson and others who raised their voices to demand an end to oppression. Actors from the Poets Theater of Cambridge give voice to the radicals who turned their world around and gave New Bedford a reputation as a safe haven for anti-slavery activists. FREE