One Life: Frederick Douglass

June 16, 2023 – April 21, 2024

Frederick Douglass by an unidentified artist. Oil on canvas, 1845. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, One Life Gallery

See on Map Floor Plan

One Life: Frederick Douglass illuminates the legacy of one of the 19th century’s most influential writers, speakers and intellectuals through prints, photographs, and ephemera. After escaping slavery in 1838, Douglass published three autobiographies and a novella, delivered thousands of speeches, and edited the longest continually running Black newspaper of the 19th century. Always a radical activist, Douglass devoted his life to abolitionism and “all rights for all.” A political insider and policy influencer during the Civil War, he befriended and advised President Lincoln. Crucially, Douglass changed traditional rules of representation by explaining how “true art” (as opposed to insidious caricatures) could be an engine of social change.

One Life: Frederick Douglass is guest curated by John Stauffer, the Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.