MAAH is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and interpreting the contributions of African Americans.
Nestled on Boston’s Beacon Hill and at Nantucket’s Five Corners are some of the nation’s most important National Historic Landmarks. The Museum’s two campuses feature the earliest churches and schools still standing in the land that were built by and for black communities. Each is beautifully restored and worthy of any journey. Our historic sites, talks, tours, videos, collections, and programs are rooted in the past and connected to the present. From the American Revolution to the Abolitionist and Niagara Movements, experience powerful American stories through a new lens. Come to the Museum, where Frederick Douglass and pioneering activists, entrepreneurs, journalists, educators, artists, and authors organized campaigns that changed the nation.
The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and interpreting the contributions of African Americans. 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 19th century.
Mission: The mission of the Museum of African American History is 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.
Join our Histrionic Club! Send us your dramatic readings, your original poetry, your re-interpretation of this poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper on the 54th Massachusetts Regiment! Send your submissions to [email protected] The next prompt will be sent April 22.
Though “Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection” will be coming down once we re-open, our “Jazz Scene in Boston: Telling the Local Story” exhibit will remain on view!
Online submissions due tomorrow!
Our #MondayMotivation is from playwright & abolitionist, William Wells Brown. Image Courtesy of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
April is Jazz Appreciation Month! This 1962 photo of Helena McKay (Hurricane Helen) and band at Curusoe’s Diplomat Bauges is from the Carrington Family Archives.
We are accepting applications for our 2020 MLK Summer Scholars program, sponsored by John Hancock. Check out the job description and download an application here: https://www.maah.org/jobs
Applications due June 5, 2020.
For the first Histrionic Club, send us your dramatic readings, your original poetry, your re-writes of this poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper on the 54th Massachusetts Regiment! Send your submissions to [email protected]. The next prompt will be sent April 22.
This article from “The Liberator” newspaper describes The Histrionic Club founded by William Cooper Nell. We’ve decided to resurrect this club virtually for MAAH! Starting this week, we will be posting a historic literary source every other Wednesday.
We are looking to you, our followers, to produce something relating to the piece. It can be a video of a dramatic reading, a re-write of the poem, or original poetry! Email [email protected] your pieces and we'll post samples throughout the week
Help support the Museum by becoming a member! See our different levels of membership and benefits here: https://www.maah.org/join
#FlashbackFriday to the 2012 Spriggs Lecture, “Rhode Island Blacks and the Revolutionary War,” on Nantucket with featured speaker (and former MAAH board member) Dr. Louis Wilson! The Spriggs Lecture was created in honor of Frank & Bette Spriggs, the first Directors of our Nantucket campus.
Leon E. Wilson has been named as the new President & CEO at the Museum of African American History. Under Mr. Wilson’s leadership, the organization will continue to build on its strengths, develop new relationships, and deepen existing relationships with partners and supporters. Head to our website www.maah.org/releases for the full statement
We’re joining the City of Boston and fellow cultural institutions to spread the word about the 2020 Census! Take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions that will shape our communities for the next 10 years: 2020census.gov #BostonCultureCounts
Pictured: Julia Hamilton Smith with hat and furs
Julia Hamilton Smith (1885-1980) was the oldest child and only daughter of Hamilton Sutton and Julia Brooks Smith and the granddaughter of John J. Smith. Julia H. Smith grew up in Washington, D.C. where she was a teacher for over forty years, before moving to Cambridge in 1947. Following in her family's tradition, Julia remained active in community and political affairs and preserved her father's photography collection, which is now part of the collection at the Museum of African American History.
Elizabeth Keckley, dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln, was the founder and President of the Contraband Relief Association. She founded the association in 1862 “I made a suggestion in the colored church, that a society of colored people be formed to labor for the benefit of the unfortunate freedmen.” Image Courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
On March 11, our Director of Education and Interpretation, L’Merchie Frazier, was on a panel at the Boston Athenaeum moderated by King's Chapel's David Waters. The panel, part of the Community Conversations series at the Athenaeum, focused on the question: What is the impact of religion and faith traditions on culture and society?
Panelists: From left to right:
Rev. Jeffry L. Brown, Associate Pastor, Twelfth Baptist Church; David Waters, Minister of Education and Membership, King's Chapel; Faye Carpenter, History Program Director, King’s Chapel; L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Education, Museum of African American History.
#OnThisDay in 1845, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed “An Act concerning Public Schools” which guaranteed that every child in the state would have access to a public school. This Act was passed in part due to pressure from petitions from black Nantucketers fighting on behalf of Eunice Ross.
#OnThisDay in 1856, “The Liberator” advertised a William Wells Brown reading of his play entitled “The Doughfaced Baked, or, How to Give a Northern Man a Backbone” in Tremont Temple. “Doughface” was a term used by abolitionists to disparage a northerner (especially politicians) who was not opposed to slavery or sympathetic to the south.
Even though the Museum is closed, you can still visit our online exhibits! Walk the virtual Black Heritage Trail and check out the exhibit “Freedom Rising: Remembering the Abolition Movement & Campaign for Civil Rights in Boston, 1770s-1930s" through Google Arts & Culture, created by Google Cultural Institute
You can also view our “Learning from the Past: Revisiting the Abiel Smith School 1835-1855" exhibit on our website at: https://www.maah.org/online_exhibit
See Museum View in the Abiel Smith School where you can explore the “Freedom Rising: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Black Books” exhibit.
From Barbara Annn White as part of our Nantucket newsletter: “Eunice Ross was instrumental in the integration of the Nantucket school system. The town’s refusal to admit her to the high school in 1840 led to the first law in the United States to guarantee equal access to education. Eunice Ross was born in 1823, the youngest daughter of James and Mary (Pompey) Ross. Eunice Ross attended the African School at the corner of York and Pleasant Streets in the African Meeting House. The school was organized in 1825 by the New Guinea community one year before the island established the public school system. It was absorbed into the town school system in 1826. Nantucket did not, however, establish a public high school until 1839 defying Massachusetts law. The seventeen-year-old Ross had outgrown the curriculum of the African School. Under the tutelage of the school’s abolitionist teacher, Anna Gardner, she prepared for the entrance examination. Along with seventeen white pupils, she passed the exam, but was refused admission because of her color. The issue of school segregation and the denial of Eunice Ross to the high school dominated Nantucket politics from 1840 to 1846.”
Our Director of Education and Interpretation, L’Merchie Frazier, was on “This is New England!” Check out the segment here: http://ow.ly/KNEO50yJ286
This summer, the Museum of African American History in Boston will launch a new program honoring the city’s African American suffragists.
Check for updates on our reopening on our website and see our full statement at Maah.org/releases
The Museum of African American History will be closed tomorrow in response to the COVID-19. Check our updates on our reopening on our website and see our full statement at Maah.org/releases
Museum of African American History Announces Pre-Emptive Closures to Combat the Spread of COVID-19. The Museum of African American History will be closed to the public beginning Saturday, March 14.
The 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award is open for submissions! Head over to our website www.maah.org/book-award for complete submission guidelines and make sure to follow us for more updates!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Black History Month week-long celebration on Nantucket! #ACK
#OnThisDay in 1841, the Supreme Court ruled that the Africans who had seized the “Amistad” were illegally enslaved and thus were within their rights to fight for their freedom. The survivors were then sent home to Sierra Leone. The ordeal took three years. Image Courtesy of the College of Wooster
“Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the @BankofAmerica Collection” is closing on March 31st! Check out the exhibit while it’s up at 46 Joy Street, Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. "Jazz Scene in Boston: Telling the Local Story” will remain on view supported by Mass Humanities and National Trust for Historic Preservation
Today is the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, where 5 men were killed outside the (Old) State House. Among them was Crispus Attucks. A man of African and Native American descent, Crispus Attucks had been enslaved in Framingham, Massachusetts, but self-emancipated as a young man in 1750. He became a powerful symbol for Boston’s black abolitionists in the mid-eighteenth century. William Cooper Nell, Lewis Hayden, and others petitioned for a permanent monument to Crispus Attucks as early as 1851.
See how the city is celebrating this historic event:
We are so thankful to the St. Botolph club for inviting us to their Allan Crite exhibit opening where one of the Museum’s paintings is on view! Check out the exhibit Wednesdays 2-4pm @ Saint Botolph Club
One Book One Island is happening on Nantucket March 6-15! This year’s book is Richard Powers’ "The Overstory”. Events are happening all week on the Island: https://www.nantucketatheneum.org/programs-events/special-programs/one-book-one-island/
It’s the primaries today! Don’t forget to vote. This image, “The Negro at the Ballot Box” by Thomas Nast, was published in Harper's Weekly Illustrated Newspaper, March 16, 1867. It illustrates the political tension surrounding African American men's right to vote, in this case, in the District of Columbia during the early years of Reconstruction. President Andrew Johnson looks on holding the "Suffrage Veto" and an "Ex-C.S.A" (Confederate States of America) man watches as a black man, described in the accompanying article as a Union army veteran, places a vote for the Republican mayoral candidate. The Fifteenth Amendment, legally (though not practically) securing black men's right to vote, was ratified in 1870.
#OnThisDay in 1860, “The Liberator” newspaper published an advertisement for a commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Boston Massacre.
Thank you to everyone who checked out our page for Black History Month! For us, every month is Black History Month. Keep checking out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more events, history, and information about our exhibits. We encourage everyone to check out our current exhibits: “Jazz Greats: Photographs from the Bank of America Collection” & “Jazz Scene in Boston: Telling the Local Story.” Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm.
Ever wonder why February is Black History Month?
Carter G. Woodson is considered the "Father of Black History" because he created Negro History Week, one week a year that would be dedicated to celebrating the lives of African Americans. He chose February because it contained the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two leaders who he believed shaped the course of Black History. It was established in 1926 and was extended to a government recognized month- long celebration in 1976.
This clipping from “The Liberator” newspaper published on December 21, 1833, is advertising a concert by the Garrison Juvenile Choir. This choir was led by Susan Paul an African American abolitionist, school teacher, and daughter of Thomas Paul, the first minister of the African Meeting House. Students that participate in our “Giant Steps in a Small Space” reenactment program get to be a part of this choir and learn the science of music from Miss Paul.
In 1638, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, noted the return of a ship from the West Indies carrying enslaved peoples: "Mr. Pierce, in the Salem ship, the Desire, returned from the West Indies after seven months. He . . . brought some cotton, and tobacco, and Negroes." This was the first documented reference to the slave trade in Massachusetts. Pictured is the Hugh Hall account book from 1728-1733 which lists goods imported, including the enslaved.
Quotation and Image Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society
In 1829, at age thirteen, William Cooper Nell qualified for a city-wide award based on academic excellence. Nell was supposed to receive a medal, but, being African American, Nell was denied the medal and an invitation to the awards dinner. Nell attended the awards dinner as a waiter, and, enraged at the discrimination he faced, made this vow:
The Museum’s Nantucket Campus caps off its Black History Month 2020 celebrations with a theoretical performance featuring one of our island patrons, Neville Richen. On February 29th at 3:00pm, join us for: A Leap Day Revival: Actor Neville Richen as Captain Absalom Boston!
In an era when many African Americans worked as seamen, Absalom Boston stood out. He was the first to captain his own ship in 1822 sailed with an all-black crew. After retiring from whaling, Boston combined a successful business career as a financier of real estate with his work on behalf the black community on Nantucket. His legacy includes helping to integrate the island’s public schools.
Admission is free and open to the public, donations accepted
Thank you to everyone who visited us during School Vacation Week and a special thank you to the Red Sox Foundation for providing free admission for the week!
On Friday, February 28th on our Nantucket Campus, the Museum will host a community roundtable: “Hair Love, Chris Rock, & California’s CROWN Act on African American hair and hairstyles.” Join us to watch Hair Love, an Oscar-winning short animated film by Matthew A. Cherry, and listen to personal narratives from black island residents on how their hair shapes their identity and experiences. 5:30-6:00pm
In this article published in the New York Times on March 3, 1945, Boston’s major baseball teams are warned to integrate or risk not being issued Sunday game licenses.
Many thanks to the Yawkey Foundations! Their three years of support for the Museum’s educational programs helped make it possible for 18,763 young people to participate since 2017.
DATE: Wednesday, February 26th I TIME: 5:30 – 6PM
Location: 27 York Street I Free Admission I Donations Accepted
How well do you know African, African American, and black history? Join us inside our Boston - Higginbotham House (built circa. 1774) to test your knowledge of history. In collaboration with the Museum's Director of Education ft Interpretation, L'Merchie Frazier, the Nantucket Associate Director and a guest host will ask attendees 25 questions about black history, with a focus on Nantucket and the United States' African American history. Don't miss what promises to be a fun evening as the Museum rarely hosts events inside our historic house.
Winner will receive The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha, second place will get a Museum mug, and third place will receive a Museum keychain.
#LunchHourLive returns to the Boston Public Library this week as "Eric in the Afternoon" host Eric Jackson sits down with Director of Education and Interpretation from the Museum of African American History - Boston and Nantucket, L’Merchie Frazier, and Bank of America's Vice President of Art & Heritage Program Manager, Kerry Miles, to discuss the MAAH's new photography exhibits "Jazz Greats" and "Jazz Scene in Boston."
If you can't make it to the BPL, stream the entire panel discussion this Thursday at noon right here via FB Live!
46 Joy St
Admission: Adults- $10 Youth (13-17) and Seniors (62+)- $8 Members and Children 12 and under- Free Group rate (20+ people)- $3.50 per person in group Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 10AM-4PM Twitter: https://twitter.com/MAAHMuseum Instagram: https://instagram.com/maahmuseum/
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The Museum of African American History inspires all generations to embrace and interpret the authentic stories of New Englanders of African descent, and those who found common cause with them, in their quest for freedom and justice. Through its historic buildings, collections, and programs, the Museum expands cultural understanding and promotes dignity and respect for all. .