Helen Pitts Douglass

Helen Pitts was the second wife of Frederick Douglass. Helen had worked for Douglass as a clerk when Douglass was employed at the D.C. Recorder of Deeds. The relationship between a white woman and a black man was the subject of intense public conversation upon their marriage in 1884.

“No man, perhaps, had ever more offended popular prejudice than I had then lately done. I had married a wife. People who had remained silent over the unlawful relations of the white slave masters with their colored slave women loudly condemned me for marrying a wife a few shades lighter than myself. They would have had no objection to my marrying a person much darker in complexion than myself, but to marry one much lighter, and of the complexion of my father rather than of that of my mother, was, in the popular eye, a shocking offense, and one for which I was to be ostracized by white and black alike.”[1]

In the years after Douglass’ death, Helen helped to establish a memorial association in his name and preserve his home of Cedar Hill in D.C. Helen Pitts Douglass died on December 1, 1903 at the age of 65. She was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York beside Frederick Douglass and his first wife, Anna Murray Douglass.

Exact Grave GPS coordinates: 43.130966, -77.614498

[1] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Boston: De Wolfe & Fiske Co., 1892), 647.

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