Frederick Douglass
Lesson plans and teaching resources

| Biography and Background | | Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass | | Resources for Reading | | Resources for Research and Writing | | Related Sites |

Biography and Background

Biography: Frederick Douglass
A brief written biography and a 3:27 video clip.

Frederick Douglass: Activist and Autobiographer
Resources and teaching suggestions from the US Library of Congress.

Songs of Slavery
Students read and analyze 4 songs, write a protest song of their own, and discuss "the significance of music and coded language in the slave community."

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written by Himself

Click here : these lesson plans are on a separate page.

Resources for Reading

"An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage"
This article by Douglass was published in The Atlantic in 1867.

Escape from Slavery, 1838
Excerpts from Douglass's writing illustrated with period photographs.

"The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro"
Don't miss the video in which actor Danny Glover reads Douglass's words, 6:10.

This article by Douglass was published in The Atlantic in 1866.

"Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln"
Text of Douglass' speech, available online, in PDF, or in Google Docs format.

"What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?"
This close reading activity focuses on the arguments and rhetorical strategies Douglass used. It includes students handouts and an online interactive activity.

"What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"
Students note details as they read. Includes text-dependent questions and suggested evidence-based answers, academic vocabulary, a culminating writing prompt and model essay, and additional learning activities. Word processor required for access.

Resources for Research and Writing

Biography Writing with Patricia and Frederick McKissack at
Students learn how to research and write a biographical sketch, including research and writing strategies. They can also receive a Certificate of Achievement. Sample biography of Frederick Douglass is available onsite.

Famous Person: Frederick Douglass
This set of lessons is designed for 5th and 6th graders. It includes biography, classroom activities, and suggestions for assessment.

Frederick Douglass
On this page, a brief biography. Follow the links to teaching ideas, discussion questions, and archived support materials.

Related Sites

Douglass in the Classroom
After reading and researching, 4th graders form a tableau vivant in response to the question, "Would you rather be a male or female slave and why?" Includes handout.

Mapping Slavery
From the U. S. Library of Congress: "The 1860 census was the last time the federal government took a count of the Southern slave population. In 1861, the United States Coast Survey issued two maps of slavery based on the census data: the first mapped Virginia and the second mapped Southern states as a whole." This infographic may contribute to student understanding of the background to the Autobiography.

"Poetry Out Loud" Winner Reads "Frederick Douglass"
Follow the link to an audiofile of high school student Shawntay Henry reciting Robert Hayden's poem "Frederick Douglass."

Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery by William Miller
The teacher guide for this children's book includes summary, prereading and comprehension questions, vocabulary, suggestions for use in literature circles, reader response and writing topics, ESL and interdisciplinary strategies. Access to this 8-page document requires Adobe Reader or compatible application.

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
Sponsored by the National Park Service, this site provides links to national historical sites and to additional information about the Underground Railroad.

Slave Narratives
A collection of narratives and activities to engage students.

What Does This Song Really Say?
Students listen to, sing, and read the lyrics to various African American spirituals. They discuss the coded messages in the songs, and the purpose of these codes. Students then write original coded messages, and present their work in a performance format.