Indiana State University Newsroom

Pi Kappa Alpha donates rare Frederick Douglass book to ISU library

January 27, 2022

A limited edition reprint of Frederick Douglass' 1845 autobiography is joining Indiana State University's library collection.

The book, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave," one of only 60 copies reprinted, will be presented by The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity to the Cunningham Memorial Library Special Collections Department during an event from 11-11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at the Events Area of the library. The book includes prints drawn by Barry Moser depicting the life and struggles of enslaved people in the United States.

Frederick Douglass was a formerly enslaved man who became a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end slavery before and during the Civil War. Douglass' autobiography describes his time as an enslaved worker in Maryland.

The book was given to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity by its advisor, Edward A. Pease, former chair of the ISU Board of Trustees, for its extensive library and education center in The Grounds at Seventh and Locust. Because of the scarcity of this edition of the book, the fraternity decided to donate it to the Rare Books & Manuscripts unit of the Special Collections Department so it can be better preserved and made available to scholars.

During the event, Crystal Mikell Reynolds, Ph.D., will give a brief presentation on "The lost history of Frederick Douglass and his involvement in Terre Haute, Indiana, 1868 - 1888." The presentations and subsequent reception are free and open to the public.

Said Pease: "We are really excited about this program - the rare book for the library, and Dr. Reynolds's research about Frederick Douglass in Terre Haute will make both a great kickoff for Black History Month, but also a permanent contribution to understanding one of the great American civil rights leaders of the nineteenth century."