An unsung heroine, Anna Murray-Douglass

Tue, 1813-10-19

On this date, we celebrate the birth of Anna Murray Douglass, a Black abolitionist, born in 1813.

Murray Douglass was from near Denton in eastern Maryland, and was the first person in her family to be born free. At the age of 17, she came to Baltimore where she met and eventually married Frederick Douglass (then Frederick Bailey). They married after his escape from slavery in 1838.

Murray-Douglass was an activist in her own right, participating vigorously in the circle of the Massachusetts reformers in the 1840s. This group included Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison.

Murray-Douglass met weekly with anti-slavery women who mounted the annual Ant-Slavery Fair in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. In 1847, she and her family moved to Rochester, New York, where she continued her abolitionist activities while raising a family, often alone because of her husband's travels abroad. To make family ends meet, Murray-Douglass worked as a laundress and shoe binder. In the words of one of her daughters, the heroism of Frederick Douglass “was a story made possible by the unswerving loyalty of Anna Murray.”

In 1872, Anna Douglass, her husband, and family moved to Washington D.C. where she lived until her death in 1882.

Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

The Anti-Slavery Society

Person / name: 

Douglass, Anna Murray