In 1818, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Considered property rather than a person, the assumed outlook of Frederick’s life was one of untold labor and strife on the lands of white slaveholders. Frederick was one of millions held in bondage, with little hope for freedom. Yet, through a remarkable series of events and interactions, this young boy from the backwaters of Maryland would grow up to be one of the greatest orators of his age. Using the power of his words and his pen, Frederick fought for the freedom and equality of all of those once held in bondage. No one could have guess in 1818 that the infant Frederick Bailey would one day become the historical colossus, Frederick Douglass. As a major figure in the abolition of slavery and the quest for Civil Rights for African-Americans, Douglass’ autobiographies and other writings are read by countless people around the world.
As inspiring as Frederick Douglass’ achievements are, the deeper story of Douglass is the story of human interactions. While often remembered today as a solitary goliath, much of what made Douglass who he was stemmed from the people who influenced his life. In his final autobiography, revised three years before his death at the age of 77, Douglass reflected on his image and personal legacy:
“I have sometimes been credited with having been the architect of my own fortune, and have pretty generally received the title of a ‘self-made man;’ and while I cannot altogether disclaim this title, when I look back over the facts of my life, and consider the helpful influences exerted upon me, by friends more fortunately born and educated than myself, I am compelled to give them at least an equal measure of credit, with myself, for the success which has attended my labors in life.”
Douglass expressed that so much of the fortune and success he had experienced in his life was a result of the influence of others. While in his book Douglass then proceeded to name those of his friends and colleagues who represented ongoing positive influences, every person Douglass interacted with in some way had a small impact on his life and direction.
The Graves of Frederick Douglass project has the goal of identifying and acknowledging the people who impacted and contributed to the development of Frederick Douglass and all that he stands for. In particular, this project seeks to locate and highlight the final resting places of as many of Douglass’ contemporaries as possible. Death is the ultimate equalizer of mankind. Douglass himself reflected on the power of visiting the last vestiges of those now passed when visiting a cemetery in New Hampshire, “There was a graveyard near the town hall, and, attracted thither, I felt some relief in contemplating the resting-places of the dead, where there was an end to all distinctions between rich and poor, white and colored, high and low.” By creating a resource of burial locations, the hope is that you might be motivated to visit some of these historical figures and reflect on their own lives and the influence they exerted on Frederick Douglass.
The centerpiece of this project is the interactive grave map. By zooming in and out, you can explore the various gravesites that have already been marked. Great care was taken in researching the sites, with many providing you with exact grave GPS coordinates. Putting these coordinates into a mapping app on your smartphone or a GPS device will allow you to pinpoint the exact location of a grave within the cemetery, making it easy to find who you are looking for. When exact grave GPS coordinates could not be determined, coordinates to the approximate location (search close by), the correct section within the cemetery (search the larger area), or the entrance to the cemetery itself (ask the cemetery office for help) were provided.
 Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Boston: De Wolfe & Fiske Co., 1892), 566.
 Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Boston: De Wolfe & Fiske Co., 1892), 557.