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Helen Pitts Douglass

(1838–1903) Helen was born in Honeoye, Ontario County, to abolitionists and suffragists parents. She went to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in Lima, NY, and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1859. She taught at the Hampton Institute in Virginia until poor health forced her to return home.

In 1882, Helen moved to Washington D.C. where she was active in the women's rights movement and co-edited the Moral Education Society's paper, The Alpha. Helen was hired as a clerk in the recorder of deeds office, run by Frederick Douglass. They were married on Jan. 24, 1884. He was 66 and she, 46. Neither his children nor her family approved. When asked about her marriage, she responded, "Love came to me, and I was not afraid to marry the man I loved because of his color."

Helen and Frederick traveled extensively and lived in Haiti when Douglass was appointed Minister by President Benjamin Harrison. After Frederick's death in 1895, Helen worked to save their home in Washington, named Cedar Hill, as a memorial to her husband's legacy. She died there in 1903. No services were held and her remains were interred in the Douglass family plot in Mount Hope. (Bio by the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery)


Mount Hope Cemetery

Section T Lot 26

1133 Mount Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620

Monroe County

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