By Christopher Harter
Title: Esther W. Douglass papers, 1887-1909
Creator: Douglass, Esther W. (1824-1916?)
Extent: 1.0 Folders
Date Acquired: 01/01/1984
The papers of Esther W. Douglass contain outgoing correspondence and a bound volume containing her life reminiscences written for a family member. They detail her work as a teacher and missionary with the American Missionary Association from 1865 to 1895 in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
The correspondence consists of nine letters and fragments of seven additional letters written by Douglass while in Oaks, North Carolina. Most are addressed to "Dear Friends" and were likely written to the American Missionary Association (AMA) office in New York; the bound volume (p. 56) mentions a monthly letter written by Doulgass that was sent to the New York office for circulation. The letters are typescripts or photostatic copies of letters. In the letters, Douglass describes her missionary and teaching efforts and the need for supplies for a "school house church" built by the AMA. She writes of the interest in education by local African Americans, but her difficulties in getting children to attend school when they are needed by their families to tend fields and livestock. Douglass's interest in temperance issues, Christmas celebrations and services, as well as brief mentions of services at various churches visited by her in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Melville, and Cedar Cliff are discussed in the letters, as well.
The bound volume housed with the letters contains Douglass's life reminiscences written for her grand-nephew, Henry Carter Adams II, circa 1909. The volume begins with her statement that she is fulfilling a promise to her brother to "write a sketch of my life." Douglass's memories center on her work with the American Missionary Association beginning with a position near Hampton, Viriginia, in 1865. By October of that year, she taught near Oquchee, Georgia, and describes the local landscape and plantations and their devastation following the Civil War, as well as her work among the Freedmen population. In early 1867, Douglass was sent to Daufuskie Island, off the coast of South Carolina, before working in Tennessee, near Union Hill and at Fisk University in Nashville. From 1871-1879, Douglass taught near McLeansville, North Carolina. During this time she describes the presence of the Ku Klux Klan in the area. In the Fall of 1880, she was sent to Liberty County, Georgia, where she was to be the missionary at three stations - Millers Station, Golding's Grove, and Cypress Slash. From 1885 to 1895, Doulgass taught near Oaks, North Carolina.
One additional item accompanies the papers. It is a four page article written by Douglass entitled "The Country Aspect of the Work" from an unknown source.
Esther W. Douglass was a teacher and missionary for the American Missionary Association in Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee for 31 years beginning in 1865.
Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.
Physical Access Note: Bound volume is fragile and requires careful handling.
Acquisition Source: unknown
Acquisition Method: unknown
Related Materials: Related collections include the American Missionary Association archives. The Esther W. Douglass collection at the Amistad Research Center consists of photocopies of original documents housed as the Esther W. Doulgass Papers at the University of Michigan; the collection at the University of Michigan also contains a similar copy of the original bound volume housed at the Amistad Research Center. The Henry Carter Adams papers at the University of Michigan contain some correspondence related to the Douglass family.
Preferred Citation: Esther W. Douglass Papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Processing Information: Collection processed in July 2011.
Finding Aid Revision History: Materials previously housed as an addendum to the Esther W. Douglass Collection.