Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > The Frederick Douglass Papers

[Detail] North Star, June 2, 1848. Edited by Frederick Douglass.

Letter Writing

With the advent of such technologies as the telephone, e-mail, and text messaging, many argue that letter writing is a lost art. In the nineteenth century, however, letter writing was an essential means of communication.

Use the Browse by Subject feature to find letters written by and to Frederick Douglass. Browse through at least ten letters. List the different purposes that the letters served (i.e., create a list of categories of correspondence).  What do you note about the style of writing in the various categories of letters? Are they different? If so, in what ways? Which of these purposes are still met by the writing of individual letters? How are other purposes fulfilled today? What is lost through the use of different technologies to communicate what was formerly communicated via letter? What is gained?