Frederick C. Douglass Papers, 1873-[1887-1901]-1958

Manuscript Collection #323

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Frederick C. Douglass Papers
    Creator: Douglass, Frederick C., active 1889-1897
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers (1873-[1887-1901]-1958) of a Black lawyer, minister and teacher, in New Bern, N.C., who handled pension applications for many African Americans who served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War or their widows, consisting of pension affidavit ledgers, pension certificate ledgers, correspondence, pamphlets, daybooks, photographs, poetry, essays, application forms, tax receipts, etc.
    Extent: 1.115 Cubic feet, 25 items, 11 volumes , including Civil War pension affidavit ledgers, pension certificate ledgers, correspondence, pamphlets, daybooks, and miscellany.
  • Description

    Most of the collection consists of ledgers (1887–1897) that contain affidavits supporting these applications. For a detailed discussion of the nature of the applications, see the narrative description for collection #248, which reflects nearly identical material.

    Among the most important references in the applications are details of the Dennis Wordsworth case, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.c, pp. 168–171; #323.1.d, pp.22–24, 44–46); the explosion of a gun aboard USS Lenape at Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1867 (#323.1.b, p.32); the murder of Andrew Beasley by Zacharia Woodard (or Woods) (#323.1.c, pp. 163–166, 172–173); the disposition of the Lettice McLoud claim, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.c, p. 216); murders by the Ku Klux Klan (#323.1.c, p. 177); the arrest of Dennis Wordsworth for sending a letter to General Benjamin Butler (#323.1.c, pp. 168–171; #323.1.d, pp. 22–24, 44–46); and a mutiny and riot in the 37th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Hilton, near Wilmington, N.C., in 1865 (#323.1.a, pp. 179–180).

    The majority of the claims were filed during the 1890s; consequently, most of the applications were made by widows. Others reflect the progressively increasing disability of surviving veterans. References of a medical nature include the consumption of raw liver for the improvement of eyesight (#323.1.c, p. 218); the injury of John Roberts, mentioned in collection #248 (#323.1.d, p. 260); and a diagnosis of Windsor Granger by Dr. Thomas M. Jordan referring to "bone scurvy," neuralgia, and rheumatic dialysis. It is interesting to note that a larger percentage of claims from men in Granger's unit (2nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Cavalry) mention bone scurvy as part of their debility.

    The collection contains several additional volumes. One ledger consists of copies of pension award certificates, indexed by letter groups (1889–1891). Another (not indexed) is a combination of estate records, pension claim affidavits, and pension award certificates (1890–1903). The estate papers pertain to the estates of Martha Pate of Craven County (1890–1891) and Phoebe Parson of Jones County (1892–1893). A roll book for the Pleasant Hill School in Craven County (December 1873–April 1880) contains the name and attendance record of each student. Also included are two daybooks reflecting purchases of groceries and other products by a variety of individuals, including Frederick Douglass (1910–1911) and Douglass's bank book (1892–1894).

    Also in the collection are a fragment of History of the 37th Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry (1866); a copy of The Planet (1916), yearbook of the West Street Graded School in New Bern, which includes lists of graduates (1904–1916), photographs, poetry, and essays on tuberculosis, mosquitoes, and houseflies; scattered correspondence (1886–1958, undated), which includes a letter concerning the need for female domestic servants from New Bern in Orange, New Jersey; forms pertaining to pension applications; and Pamlico County tax receipts (1883–1900).

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Frederick Douglass was a black lawyer, minister, and teacher of New Bern, North Carolina. During the 1880s and 1890s he handled the pension applications of many blacks who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    December 7, 1976, 8 volumes; Civil War pension application ledgers (1890-1893). Gift of Mr. Thomas A. Johnson, Tuxedo, New York.

    June 5, 2018, 0.025 cu.ft.; Pension ledger (1898-1901) for African Americans who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War, especially the regiments formed in North Carolina (35th, 36th, 37th, 14th, 2nd) but also the 38th, 40th, and 4th. The pension applications are mainly for the widows of soldiers and are being applied for in New Bern, North Carolina. Applications also include affidavits from doctors and soldiers who had served with the applicants’ husbands. Frederick C. Douglass of New Bern is listed as Notary Public throughout the ledger. The ledger does have condition issues and sections (pp. 15-38, 41-74, past 102) are missing, but there is still a lot of good information present. Purchased with state funds from Battleground Antiques, New Bern, N.C.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mr. Thomas A. Johnson
    Purchase from Battleground Antiques

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Frederick C. Douglass Papers (#323), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processed by J. Reedy, May 1982

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

Container List

  • Contains folder a.
    Pension application ledger, 1894-1896, 1897. [Ledger contains index. Indexed by letter groups but not alphabetized within letter groups. Check for multiple entries.]

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Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection, without the consent of those individuals, may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which East Carolina University assumes no responsibility.

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Container List

  • Contains folder a.
    Pension application ledger, 1894-1896, 1897. [Ledger contains index. Indexed by letter groups but not alphabetized within letter groups. Check for multiple entries.]

Once you have selected all of the boxes/folders you would like to view, click