Women in the World of Frederick Douglass
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 16, 2017 Lilian Calles Barger
Leigh Fought is an assistant professor of history at Le Moyne College. Her book Women in the World of Frederick Douglass (Oxford University Press, 2017) offers a detailed and rich portrait of Frederick Douglass’ private and public life and his many relationships with women. From his enslaved mother Harriet, Sophia Auld the slave mistress that sparked his interest in reading, to his wife of forty-four years Anna Murray, daughter Rosetta and his white second wife Helen Pitts; these were the women who populated his private world. From each he learned lessons about the workings of race, gender and class in America and prepared him to collaborate with many antislavery women including Julia Griffiths, Maria Weston Chapman and Amy Post. He saw his fight for abolition as part of “woman’s cause” bringing him into contact with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Seeing himself as “woman’s rights man,” who had attended the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848, he was perplexed by the betrayal of many woman’s rights advocates. Fought fills in much of what is lacking in the female “empty space” in the study of Douglass allowing a fuller understanding of his life and ideas. This is an invaluable contribution to Douglass studies.
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is tentatively entitled The World Come of Age: Religion, Intellectuals and the Challenge of Human Liberation is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2018.