Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration
Signed by Frederick Douglass, Jr., this 1878 petition for woman suffrage asks the House and Senate to amend the Constitution and allow women to vote. Douglass’s famous father, Frederick Douglass, became an abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and writer after escaping from slavery. Following his father’s path, Douglass, Jr., provided the first signature on this petition. The petition was a form letter that could be easily distributed and endorsed by signers across the country. Printed on a sheet of paper, the document has blanks for organizers to fill in their state, county, town, and signatures. As African-American residents of the Uniontown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., these signers altered the printed document to better reflect their residential and representational situation. “State of” is crossed out and replaced by “Dist. of Col.” The labels for “Men” and “Women” have been altered to read “Colored Men” and “Colored Women.” Their 33 signatures demonstrate support for women’s suffrage from an African-American community.