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Worker Wednesday: SS Frederick Douglass launched

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Although this blog series, Worker Wednesday, was conceived with the Higgins Industries employee publications (Eureka News Bulletin and The Higgins Worker) in mind, today we’ll look to the Northeast. On 22 May 1943, the SS Frederick Douglass was launched in Baltimore. The abolitionist Douglass had, himself, worked as a ship caulker in Baltimore before his escape from slavery. Frederick Douglass III, grandson of the ship’s namesake was among the guests at the ship’s launch.

Office of War Information photographer Roger Smith documented the construction at Bethlehem-Fairhope shipyards, which employed over 6,000 African American workers at the time. The entire series can be viewed at the Library of Congress. The SS Frederick Douglass would be sunk just four months later by the German submarine, U-238. The British recue ship Rathlin rescued all seventy aboard (forty merchant seamen, twenty-nine Armed Guard, and one female stowaway!).

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.

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