The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920

About the Collection

The African-American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920 comprises digital reproductions of materials drawn from many collections held by the Ohio Historical Society. Some are housed in the Archives/Library in Columbus. Others are from the Library/Manuscript collections of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce. The intention has been to bring together diverse sources to provide evidence of the diversity and complexity of African-American culture during this time period and to let those sources tell their own story without interpretation. The collection illustrates several major themes: slavery, abolition, and the underground railroad; African Americans in politics and government; and African-American religion.

Elements of the Collection

The textual materials for this collection have been drawn from many sources in the Ohio Historical Society's collections. From the manuscript collections come personal papers of prominent individuals, association records, a plantation account book, ex-slave narratives, and documents relating to the freeing of individual slaves. A major collection comprises the correspondence of George A. Myers, a businessman and politician who played an active role in the Republican Party at the turn of the century. Printed works include pamphlets, speeches, and reports. Longer works include the 1909 Handbook of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the 1897 Budget Containing the Status of Methodism at the Second Ecumenical Conference of Methodism, compiled by Benjamin Arnett. Over 15,000 articles about African Americans and issues affecting them have been selected from eleven Ohio newspapers. Also included are over 200 articles from the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review and other materials published by the church.

Over 300 photographs and other pictorial materials were selected from throughout the institution. They include pictures of ex-slaves, and of African Americans serving in the army, the police force, and the Ohio House of Representatives.

You may browse by category of source material to find more information about collections and publications from which items in this collection were drawn. You may also search for individual items.

Significance of the Collection

Individuals and institutions from Ohio played important roles in the struggle against slavery, providing access to higher education for African Americans, and advocating civil rights. In his Introduction to the collection on the Ohio Historical Society web site, Dr. John Fleming of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center highlights the significance of particular portions of the collection.

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