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Rochester's Roots: The untold history of Anna Murray Douglass

February 19, 2019 09:47 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- You may not know her name or her story, but she's one of the most important people in abolitionist history, especially here in Rochester.

Anna Murray Douglass was the first wife of famed abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass.

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News10NBC spoke with Richard Newman, a history professor at RIT. He says that Anna Murray was "the rock" that Douglass rested on.

The couple got married in New York City in 1838, after Douglass, with a lot of help from Anna, escaped from slavery. 

From the mid to late 1800s, the family called Rochester home. Anna did a lot, raising their children, taking care of the house, and working on the Underground Railroad while Douglass traveled in the fight to end slavery.

"Anna Murray should always be thought of as an equal in the Douglass' family and life," said Newman. "She's the one that has to experience the tragedies that befall the family while Douglass is away. And yet, she does it with dignity, honor, and grit."

Both Anna Murray and Frederick Douglass are buried at Mount Hope Cemetary in Rochester.

Just last year, School No. 12 was renamed Anna Murray Douglass Academy.

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