Quinnipiac will mark the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth with a series of events to honor his life and his many achievements. One of the high points will be a yearlong exhibition curated by Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute that focuses on the time Douglass spent in Ireland and his enduring relationship with that country.


Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Maryland. At the age of 20, he escaped to the north, where he quickly established himself as a talented speaker and writer.

In 1845, Douglass wrote his life story: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Written by Himself.” To avoid being captured and returned to slavery, he travelled to Europe. He spent the first four months of his exile in Ireland, returning there three more times in 1846. Douglass described his time in Ireland as “transformative” and as “the happiest days of my life.” In 1847, he returned to America, his freedom having been “purchased” by female abolitionists.

A statue of Frederick Douglass

Statue of Frederick Douglass

By Andrew Edwards, Castle Fine Arts Foundry, England. Photography by Jack Rummel, Boston.

Douglass did not know his birthday, suspecting he had been born in either 1817 or 1818. It later turned out to be 1818. He chose February 14 as the date to commemorate his birthday.

“I am not only an American slave, but a man, and as such, am bound to use my powers for the welfare of the whole human brotherhood.”
Frederick Douglass, 1846


Irish Central, July 2018
“Take a live tour of the Frederick Douglass in Ireland exhibit with Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute”

Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Launch of the exhibition by Professor John Brittain (by invitation only)

Professor Brittain is a prominent civil and human rights attorney who worked on the Sheff v. O’Neill case in the Connecticut Supreme Court. He is a professor at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Frederick Douglass in Ireland: “The Black O’Connell” (Frederick Douglass in Éirinn: An Conallach Gorm) exhibition opens to the public

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

From Abolition to #BLM: A Conversation with Danny Glover
Burt Kahn Court, Mount Carmel Campus, 7 - 10 p.m.

Driven by activists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, early abolitionist efforts became the foundation for contemporary debates over the meaning of freedom. The Black Lives Matter movement, named for the hashtag started on Twitter, is steeped in the American tradition of using free speech and social actions to further the fight for justice and equality. In a fireside chat style program with Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, Glover will explore the similarities of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and its early abolitionist roots (particularly Frederick Douglass) to build connections, increase dialogue and end racism.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Birthday, Frederick!

Events throughout the day including special cupcakes and a chance to meet Nathan Richardson (Douglass enactor).

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Frederick Douglass at 200
Center for Religion, Mount Carmel Campus, 7 p.m.

Memorial service to mark Frederick's death on February 20, 1895. The service will include a selection of readings in English and Irish. A gospel choir will perform and there will be traditional Irish uilleann pipes played. Light refreshments will be provided at 6:15 p.m. The service will begin at 7 p.m. This event will take place at the Center for Religion on the Mount Carmel Campus.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Gift of Frederick Douglass
Center for Religion, Mount Carmel Campus, 3 p.m.

Kenneth Morris and Nettie Douglass, descendants of Frederick Douglass, will discuss how they are preserving his legacy. The event will begin at 3 p.m. in the Center for Religion on the Mt. Carmel Campus. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Ann Marie Godbout
Assistant to Ireland's Great Hunger Institute

About Us

About us

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University fosters a deeper understanding of the Great Hunger of Ireland and its causes and consequences through a strategic program of lectures, conferences, course offerings and publications.