The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass

This course probes the nature of the life, work, and thought of the nineteenth-century abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass. Dr. David Blight will examine in depth the public and private sides of Douglass’s life and his importance as a thinker and as a political activist in the great dramas of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

Read the course outline here and listen to a history teacher introduce the course below.


Please create a free K–12 student account. Note: Only K–12 logged-in students will be able to access the registration form.


  • Twenty-four video sessions led by Professor David Blight
  • A certificate of completion for 12 hours of course time

Readings: Recommended readings related to the course are listed in the “Resources” link on the course page. You are not required to read or purchase any print materials. Quizzes are based on the content of the recordings rather than the readings.

Course Access: After registering, you may access your course by logging in and visiting your “My Courses” link.


David Blight is the Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. His scholarly work focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, American cultural history, American historical memory, and African American history. Dr. Blight has been a guest on Inside the Vault and other Gilder Lehrman programs. His book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom received the Pulitzer Prize and Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

The views expressed in this course are those of Dr. David Blight.