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Welcome to Douglass Day!

February 14, 2020
12 PM – 3 PM (EST)

Douglass Day 2020

On Valentine’s Day 2020, we invite you to a birthday party for Frederick Douglass. Although Douglass was born into bondage, and never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14th. Today we celebrate Douglass Day as a collective action for preserving Black history together.

Join us online or at local events to help transcribe, read, and teach the papers of Anna Julia Cooper, a visionary Black feminist. Her work influenced generations, yet today she is under appreciated. Help us share her writings & legacy with future generations!

How can I get involved?

1. Organize an event with your school or group!

You can host a local event on Douglass Day. We can help! We have guides for each activity, along with resources and templates for just about everything in our easy-to-use planning kit! Choose from these activities:

  • Transcribe Cooper’s papers online
  • Read & discuss an essay by Cooper with our guide.
  • Plus K-12 lesson plans for transcribing and readings!

2. Find a local event to attend.

Many local events are open to the public. Browse a map of these locations on this page.

3. Anyone can join us online!

  • Live video broadcast on YouTube.
  • Chat on social media with #DouglassDay.


What is Douglass Day?
After Frederick Douglass passed away in 1895, African American communities gathered to celebrate his birthday every year on February 14th. These memorials offered a space for reflection on the past and the questions of today. Douglass Day was one of the origins of Black History Month.
In 2017, the Colored Conventions Project revived these celebrations as an annual day for preserving Black history. This year, we will hold a transcribe-a-thon and read-a-thon focused on the papers of Anna Julia Cooper. All are invited! Learn more about the history of Douglass Day.
Who was Anna Julia Cooper?
Anna Julia Cooper (1858 – 1964) was a visionary Black feminist leader, educator, intellectual, and activist. Born into slavery in 1858, she earned a PhD from University of Paris-Sorbonne. She wrote a foundational text of Black feminist thought, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South. Cooper taught us that Black women should be at the center of the battle for civil rights. Learn lots more about Cooper.
What is a transcribe-a-thon?
During these events, we can help enhance digitized archives. We’ll have food, music, and a fun time! Our main activity will be transcribing the words in all sorts of documents (from letters and diaries to certificates and postcards). Don’t feel comfortable reading old handwriting? Try working in pairs. There’s also lots of typewritten documents that are easier to read. And we have lots of tutorials, guides, and more in the Organizer’s Kit. Let’s dive in!
What is a read-a-thon?
We will provide a few short readings of works by Anna Julia Cooper. They will be short enough to read during the event. Then, we have a set of discussion questions in our guide to hosting reading groups. We are also preparing a Teacher’s Guide for Douglass Day with lesson plans & resources (coming soon). Info about both formats will be posted soon in our Organizer’s Kit. Or skip straight to the guide for reading groups.
Where can I order official Douglass Day swag?
Visit our section on Douglass Day swag. Prefer to create your own? We posted all of our graphics on the flyers page. Create away — and share with us!

“When and where I enter… the whole race enters with me.”

—Anna Julia Cooper

Douglass Day 2020 is presented by

The Colored Conventions Project, the Anna Julia Cooper Digital Project, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities, and the Penn State University Libraries, Penn State’s Center for Humanities and Information, and the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.

The transcribe-a-thon is made possible by training and generosity of the Zooniverse non-profit organization. We extend special thanks for support to the American Studies Association for a Community Partnership Grant.