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Textual Introduction

Gerald Fulkerson

The Yale edition of Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom seeks to present a carefully determined critical text that restores as fully as possible the form and content intended by its author. After searching for editions and printings of Bondage and Freedom and analyzing the discovered texts, we have chosen a copy-text that seems to preserve, to a greater extent than its alternatives, the accidentals (punctuation, word-division, spelling, capitalization, and means of emphasis) of Douglass's work. Collation of the copy-text against the other relevant texts coupled with examination of external evidence has resulted in emendation of the copy-text in both substantives (the language) and accidentals. The data and rationale that informed the emending process are accessible in a four-part textual apparatus (Textual Notes, List of Emendations, Historical Collation, and Line-End Hyphenation) that has been placed in an appendix in order to keep the main text uncluttered. We have left the text unmodernized in order to maintain the integrity of Douglass's vision of his work.
The publication history of Bondage and Freedom during Douglass's lifetime is relatively uncomplicated. The only edition relevant to our efforts to establish a critical text was first published in 1855 by the firm of Miller, Orton & Mulligan, with offices in New York City and Auburn, New York. This edition comprises three printings dated respectively 1855 (A), 1856 (B), and 1857 (C). In addition to the English-language edition, two foreign-language editions were published: a German translation by Douglass's friend Ottilie Assing appeared in Hamburg in 1860, and a French translation by Catherine Valérie Boissier Gasparin was published in Paris in 1883.1Douglass, Sclaverei und Freiheit: Autobiographie von Frederick Douglass; idem, Mes anneés d'esclavage et de liberté par Frédérick Douglass, marshal de Colombie (d'après l'anglais), trans. Catherine Valérie Boissier Gasparin.
Douglass's correspondence contains evidence that after the Civil War he came close to making the publication history of Bondage and Freedom somewhat more complex. In mid-1864 Rufus Saxton, the owner of the stereotype plates from which Miller, Orton & Mulligan had printed Bondage and Freedom, asked Douglass whether he wished to purchase the plates for $150, noting that "they will bring half this sum for old metal, so they are very cheap."2Rufus Saxton to Douglass, 6 June 1864, General Correspondence File, reel 2, frame 34, FD Papers, DLC. By this time Bondage and Freedom had been out of print for seven years and had become difficult to find, so it is possible that Douglass bought the plates with the intention of reprinting his

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RCH in KZ

The 6 May 2022 version by swartzsm, while beautifully done, changed the hypertext markup for footnotes from to . The result of this change is that the footnotes are only visible when the computer cursor is hovered over the footnote number in the body of the text; the footnote is not visible in the "overview" of the transcription work. I assume that all versions of the work are available to the overseeing institution, and thus it can choose which version it wishes as its final output.

Frederick Douglass Digital Edition

Thanks for this observation. The final goal in the clean-up for this published document as in others series, is to have the footnotes encoded in the documents. The footnote tag that is available in the advanced markup is inserted into the text where the footnote number goes, and the footnote text is inserted between the angle brackets. I have made those changes in this page so you can see the final product.