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Anna Murray

There would be no Frederick Douglass without Anna Murray. After declaring she did not want her children's father to be a slave, Anna helped Douglass escape by disguising him as a sailor. She sold her personal belongings to finance his escape. They eventually reunited in New York, where they married. This module examines Anna Murray’s powerful influence on Douglass' self-emancipation. Students will analyze primary source photographs and historical documents from the era, and and consider discussion prompts for more dialogue and deeper reflection.

Essential Question:

How does life in Baltimore transform Douglass’ personal and spiritual life?

Thinking Questions:

What role did the A.M.E church play in Frederick Douglass’s escape to freedom?

How did Anna Murray inspire and challenge Frederick Douglass?

Why was Frederick Douglass’s disguise so effective in his successful escape from slavery?

How would you describe Anna Murray Douglass today? Who might you compare her to?

Analyze the photograph, Anna Murray Douglass.

  • What details do you notice in this photograph? What people or objects are shown?
  • What can you learn from examining this image?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this photograph?
  • Why do you think this photograph was taken?
  • If someone made this today, what would be different? What would be the same?

Examine the manuscript, Rosetta Douglass Sprague; "Anna Murray Douglass, My Mother As I Recall Her," 1900.

  • What is the purpose of this text?
  • What do you notice, wonder, and feel after reading the narrative?
  • What do you learn from this manuscript that you might not learn anywhere else?
  • How does engaging with Anna Murray Douglass’s story firsthand create an emotional impact for you?
  • What do you learn about the family history between Anna Murray Douglass and the author?

Examine the photograph, Full-length portrait of an African American sailor, facing front.

  • What do you notice first? What people or objects are shown?
  • Look closely at the image and make observations about what you notice, wonder, and feel.
  • Why do you think this photograph was taken?
  • Who does the photograph represent?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this photograph?