Former Frederick Douglass home recognized as Underground Railroad site
The former site of the Douglass family home on South Avenue has been recognized by the National Parks Service as an important Underground Railroad site in Rochester.
The Douglass family house is one of nine new sites and programs added this week to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
"Each addition … centers around a story of hope in the face of hostility and oppression," Diane Miller, program manager of the Network to Freedom said in a statement.
The site in Rochester is currently the Frederick Douglass Community Library and the city district’s School 12, named the Anna Murray-Douglass Academy.
“It is an honor to be associated with such a significant part of our nation's history,” Rochester schools superintendent Carmine Peluso said in a statement on Tuesday. “As educators, we are inspired by the legacy of Anna Murray-Douglass and the important role that education played in the fight for justice.”
During the 1800s, places like the Douglass family home served to provide safe passage for enslaved Africans and African Americans escaping human traffickers like plantation owners and so-called “slave catchers.” They served as direct resistance to the status quo of the time and marked a defining moment in U.S. history and in the lives of people who had spent most, if not all, of their lives in enslavement.
Frederick Douglass himself grew up in enslavement, and early in his life he became aware of the link between literacy and freedom, according to the National Parks Service. In Rochester, his journalism career unfolded.
He founded the abolitionist newspaper “The North Star” in the winter of 1847, and went on years later to lead the “New National Era” publication in Washington D.C..
The Douglass home site joins more than 700 sites and programs including Kelsey’s Landing about four miles north by Lower Falls in the city of Rochester.
According to the Finger Lakes Film Trail, Kelsey's Landing was the last stop in the underground network for people seeking freedom, with some traveling to Canada by boat from the shores here.
The Finger Lakes Film Trail identifies six underground railroad sites in the Rochester area. Most are not in the National Parks Service network, including: the Henry Quinby Farm, the David H. Richardson Farm, the Warrant Farm, the Harvey Humphrey, Esq. House