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Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave

by Bernard K. Means

Today and tomorrow (February 17 and 18, 2018), at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, the bicentennial of this great man’s birth is being celebrated. In anticipation of this event, the Virtual Curation Laboratory partnered with the National Park Service to 3-D scan several objects associated with Frederick Douglass to be included in public programs for this event and future educational endeavors. You can read more about these efforts here. Some of these objects were recovered archaeologically at Frederick Douglass’s house, while others were collected by Douglass himself.

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3-D scanning a ceramic doll recovered archaeologically at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

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3-D scanning a sea shell collected by Frederick Douglass and in the collections of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

After the 3-D scans of the artifacts and historic items was completed, they were then edited in the Virtual Curation Laboratory. All of these models have been uploaded to our Sketchfab site and are free to download and 3-D print. You can find these models here.


Once we have the digital models, we then 3-D printed accurately scaled replicas. These replicas were then painted in our lab by Kristen Egan, a VCU alumnae, or under her direction. Kristen is developing painting guides for these replicas, including this one for the doll found archaeologically at this site.

We certainly encourage anyone to incorporate these replicas into their teaching about Douglass. Keep an eye out in future posts for more of our partnership with the National Park Service to bring the past to the public.