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Picturing Frederick Douglass: The Most Photographed American of the 19th Century

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Newly discovered photographs of Frederick Douglass reveal that he – not Lincoln, Whitman, or General Custer, as previously claimed – was the most photographed American of the 19th century. Douglass understood the promise of his country’s new fascination with the camera and believed that photography could be a catalyst for reform. He used these widely circulated portraits to create a black public persona, counter racist iconography, and promote equality. University of Nottingham Professor Zoe Trodd traces Douglass’s visual journey from fugitive slave to elder statesman, and outlines the legacy of these 160+ photographs.

Zoe Trodd is a fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the Center for the Study of the American South. She has a PhD from Harvard University's History of American Civilization department and a BA/MA from Cambridge University in English Literature. She researches and teaches American protest literature, especially the literature of civil rights, anti-lynching and abolitionism.