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Frederick C. Douglass Papers, 1873-[1887-1896]-1958

Manuscript Collection #323

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Frederick C. Douglass Papers
Creator: Douglass, Frederick C.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1873-[1887-1896]-1958) of a Black lawyer, minister and teacher, in New Bern, NC, who handled pension applications for many Negroes who served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War, consisting of pension affidavit ledgers, pension certificate ledgers, correspondence, pamphlets, daybooks, photographs, poetry, essays, application forms, tax receipts, etc.
Extent: 1.09 Cubic feet, 24 items, 10 volumes , including Civil War pension affidavit ledgers, pension certificate ledgers, correspondence, pamphlets, daybooks, and miscellany.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

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

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.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. Thomas A. Johnson

Processing Information

  • Processed by J. Reedy, May 1982

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Frederick Douglass was a black lawyer, minister, and teacher of New Bern, N.C. 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.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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 U.S.S. LENAPE at Wilmington 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 (Dec., 1873-Apr., 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, N.J.; forms pertaining to pension applications; and Pamlico County tax receipts (1883-1900).

For related material, see collections #248 and #265, and #Mf. 40.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

  • Box 1#0323.1
    • Folder a#0323.1.a
      Pension application ledger, 1887-1889. [Names of claimants, affiants, and persons of importance are listed alphabetically with maiden names and aliases where known and cross references. Names of slaveholders are included.] View index prepared by James R. Reedy, Jr.
    • Folder b#0323.1.b
      Pension application ledger, 1891. [Ledger contains index. Partially indexed with claim number, name of claimant, rank and unit designation, and page number. Check for multiple entries.]
    • Folder c#0323.1.c
      Pension application ledger, 1891. [Ledger contains index. Indexed with date, name of claimant, and page number. Many sections of index only partially legible. Check for multiple entries.]
    • Folder d#0323.1.d
      Pension application ledger, 1891-1892. [Ledger contains index. Indexed by letter groups but not alphabetized within groups. Check for multiple entries.]

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. To see what's been digitized in this collection, please click on the "View Digitized Objects" link, or look for hyperlinks in the container list
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