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How to Use the Images

Inquiry Question

Historical Context



Illustration 1


Table of

Visual Evidence

Photo 1: Wye House.

[Photo 1] Wye House photo by Janet Blyberg with link to larger version of image.
(Photo courtesy of Janet Blyberg)


Photo 2: Nathan and Polly Johnson House.

[Photo 2] Nathan and Polly Johnson House with link to larger version of image.
(National Park Service)

When Douglass arrived in New Bedford in 1838 he stayed in the 2-story rectangular house in the foreground of this photograph. At the time, the side with the steps leading up to a back door faced the street. In the 1850s, the Johnsons moved the house back from the street and turned it 90° clockwise. Then, they built a larger 3+ story addition in front, which you can see here behind the older house and which is now the portion facing the street.


Photo 3: Cedar Hill.

[Photo 3] Cedar Hill in Washington DC with link to larger version of image.
(National Park Service)

Questions for Photos 1-3

1) Study the Wye House in Photo 1. This house has been compared to a seven-part Roman Country House, which was the type of home owned by wealthy Romans during the classical period. Does this look like a large or complex house to you? Window glass was expensive in the 19th century. What does the number of windows tell you about the owner?

2) Does it look like the one family living here could take care of the Wye House by themselves? Who might have done the work? (Refer back to Reading 1 if necessary.)

3) Compare the Wye House to the Nathan and Polly Johnson House and to Cedar Hill. Compare the Johnson House with Cedar Hill. What are the similarities and differences among all these houses? At the different points in his life, how would each house have been appealing to Douglass? Why?

4) If you were Frederick Douglass, looking back on these three houses you had lived in during your life, which do you think would be the most meaningful to you? Explain your answer.

Click for a larger version of Photo 1.

Click for a larger version of Photo 2.

Click for a larger version of Photo 3.


Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.