Museum of African American History

Museum of African American History
Founded: 1967

To preserve and interpret the contributions of people of African descent and those who have found common cause with them in the struggle for liberty and justice for all Americans.

About the Organization:
The Museum of African American History is the largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving, and interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England. In Boston and Nantucket, the museum has preserved four historic sites and two Black Heritage Trails that tell the story of organized black communities from the colonial period through the nineteenth century.

Current Programs:
In Boston, the African Meeting House — the oldest such meeting house in the United States, built in the early 1800s — has been restored to commemorate the history of African-Americans from slavery to the abolitionist movement, with a focus on the struggle for educational equality. In the adjacent Abiel Smith School, the first building in the nation constructed for the sole purpose of housing a black public school, galleries feature rotating exhibits about African Americans' historical legacy. In addition, a guided walking tour of the museum's Black Heritage Trail, which highlights African-American heritage and community on Boston's Beacon Hill, is offered by the National Park Service; a self-guided walking tour map and guide are also available. The museum also offers educational programs, including a summer institute for teachers and summer day camps for inner-city children.

On the Island of Nantucket, the Florence Higginbotham House — built on property purchased by a former slave in 1774, a decade before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts — and the restored African Meeting House (open to the public from June to October) stand as reminders of a thriving nineteenth-century African-American community. Guided tours of Nantucket's Black History Trail feature ten sites.

Web Site:
In addition to reading about current exhibits, visitors to the site can view a slideshow about the history of the Abiel Smith School, early African-American education, and the campaign for equal school rights; or take an online tour of the Boston and Nantucket Black Heritage Trails to read about the individual sites. They also can learn about supporting the museum by becoming a member, making a donation, volunteering, or donating artifacts, documents, prints, photographs, and other items to the collections.

The Museum of African American History is supported by individuals, corporations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Contact: Beverly Morgan-Welch, Executive Director
Phone: (617) 725-0022 or (617) 720-2991