On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Author Jeffrey C. McGuiness hired me to restore historical documents; the focus centric to restore documents for legibility and readability without removing the original typesetting aesthetic of olde; to restore but maintain the inked look. I also was commissioned to redraw and paint from newspaper clippings, using every skill in my wheelhouse I've ever trained and practiced for.

This project, as a whole, meant the world to me; deeply. As an American man and proud uncle, there's nothing more important that telling our story; the real one. This is American history. The story of a slave who dared to challenge. Spoke truth to power. I had a chance and the profound honor to help bring his story, his life and all around him to the forefront. Telling an American legend's tale. But, the documents, photos and calligraphy was damaged and needed to be restored.

As I worked, I found tears pouring down when I realized what words I was restoring. The horror of the truth is a heavy burden, but one we must lift to the light. I could only imagine the immense amount of suffering him and his must have endured and died for. It wasn't just a job, this was an honor like nothing else in my life. As not just a consummate professional, but a son of this soil, it's my duty to tell his truth. This was painful. This was tearing my heart wide open. This was needed in every way possible.

This is the result of my work, along with a small army of people in tandem. A confluence of individuals who poured time, tears and effort into this. I beckon you and humbly ask with alacrity you allow the truth to be told. A slave had the bravery to step into waters uncharted, so please respect his and their efforts by giving this a chance.

- Jarrod James Vandenberg

To fully understand Frederick Douglass, it is essential to have a pictorial sense of the unusual place that gave rise to one of America’s most consequential figures.

Bear Me Into Freedom: The Talbot County of Frederick Douglass provides an important new perspective into the early years of America’s most famous freedom fighter.

Frederick Douglass is an iconic figure in American history—a powerful writer, stirring orator, and revolutionary philosopher. He was a crusading figure in the fight to abolish enslavement, establish emancipation, and promote justice and civil rights.

The story of Frederick Douglass is inextricably linked with Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It is the place where he was born into slavery in 1818 and spent eleven of the first twenty years of his life before seeking his freedom in New England. Douglass detailed his Talbot experiences with astonishing precision in his three autobiographies, experiences that became the foundation of the most powerful slave narrative in American literature.

About The Author
Jeff McGuiness is a photographer and writer who has lived in St. Michaels, Maryland for a quarter century. An avid boater, he enjoys exploring his beloved Chesapeake, divining the mysteries it holds.

McGuiness was born in California and grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. After graduating from college with an art degree in 1969, he spent the next four years in the U.S. Air Force as a photographer during the Vietnam conflict. He then worked as a commercial photographer in St. Louis for a time before deciding to pursue a law degree.
McGuiness practiced law in Washington, D.C. for more than four decades, concentrating on public policy and managing non-profit organizations. Today, he delights in tapping his varied experiences to discover what deserves to be seen but is often overlooked. His latest project, a new addition to the books about Frederick Douglass, is Bear Me Into Freedom: The Talbot County of Frederick Douglass. It reflects five years of work exploring, researching, and photographing the land Frederick Douglass walked during his eleven years of bondage in the county. Among all the Frederick Douglass books, Bear Me Into Freedom is the first one that marries imagery to the words of Frederick Douglass.

More information can be found at www.BayPhotographicWorks.com.

...Never forget how easy history is to rhyme or repeat. Thank you for viewing.

You may also like

Back to Top