Author to discuss his book on Frederick Douglass

FERRISBURGH — Who was the most photographed American of the 19th century? Not Abraham Lincoln. Not Mark Twain. It was Frederick Douglass, the ex-slave turned abolitionist and orator. Scholar and author John Stauffer will present his groundbreaking new work, “Picturing Frederick Douglass,” at Rokeby Museum on Sunday, July 23 at 3 p.m.
In Stauffer’s new book, Douglass emerges not only as one of the most renowned and popular agitators of the day, but also as a leading pioneer in photography — as both subject and prescient theorist who believed in the explosive power of what was then a new technology and art form. He frequented photographers’ studios regularly and sat for his portrait whenever he could. To Douglass, photography was the great “democratic art” that would finally assert black humanity in place of the slave “thing.”
Douglass’s legacy is inseparable from his portrait gallery, which contains 160 separate photographs, now gathered for the first time in Stauffer’s new book, “Picturing Frederick Douglass.” Books will be available for sale and signing.
John Stauffer teaches English and American and African American studies at Harvard University; he has written widely on abolition, the Civil War, and race. Tickets are $2 for the program only or free with Museum admission.

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