The Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society

The Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society

"The connection to yesterday"

James-Jason-Dave-Staffordop (18K)
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Reasons to join Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society

  • Would you like to know more about your heritage?
  • Would you like learn more about the first African Americans to settle in southwest Michigan?
  • Have you always wanted to write a family history?
  • Are you thinking of writing your memoirs?
  • Would you like to learn more about genealogical research?
  • Would you like more information on having your DNA traced?
  • Would you like to meet others who have those same interests?
  • As a family historian, would you like to know what resources and tools are available to you?
  • Would you like to find ways of inspiring the youth in your family?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you have a reason for joining the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society.

Check out the SMBHS Blog

SEARCHES (The Gilmore Car Museum and The National Museum of African American History and Culture)

The GILMORE CAR MUSEUM is in search of an original Green Book for an upcoming exhibit. The Negro Motorist Green Book, later known as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, or more commonly, The Green Book, was used by African American travelers from the 30s through the early 60s as a guide to establishments across the U.S. (and eventually North America) that welcomed blacks.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is pleased to announce a new opportunity available on our website for those interested in family history or genealogy.

The NMAAHC, FamilySearch, and the National Archives have joined forces to create an online, searchable database of former enslaved persons whose names appear in the Freedmen’s Bureau Records between 1865—1872. We are seeking volunteer help indexing the records that will form the bulk of this database.

Indexing is the process of entering information from historical records into an online, searchable database. Volunteers will be indexing names and other information from the handwritten records of the Freedmen's Bureau. This database will eventually be made available for free to the public on the NMAAHC's website, as well the FamilySearch and National Archives websites.

At the moment, no indexes of the names of freed slaves are available for researchers to navigate the vast array of available documents. Volunteer help indexing these materials will be invaluable to scholars and genealogists.

Visit our website to learn more about this exciting opportunity to contribute to the new museum in a significant way and build a body of knowledge about African American Family History.

African Americans Baseball Players
From as early as 1877 or before, Kalamazoo's leading African American baseball players were forming independent teams … Read more on the Kalamazoo Public Library's website

Upcoming Civil War Exhibit The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is searching for photographs of African American civil war soldiers from southwest Michigan in uniform for an upcoming exhibit. The photos will be scanned and returned to you immediately. If you'd like to have your family treasure included, contact Paula Metzner at the Museum at 269-373-7958.

Read the feature article on the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society in the Summer 2012 issue
of Historical Society of Michigan's Chronicle Magazine

Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society

The mission of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society is to nurture respect, appreciation, and study of the African American heritage and contributions to Southwest Michigan history. This new mission statement encompasses the concept of racial equity and our commitment to continue work we began as a part of the RACE Exhibit Initiative of Southwest Michigan.

Everyone in southwest Michigan values the heritage and history of African Americans in our region.

Statement of Purpose
We serve and empower residents of southwest Michigan to appreciate the heritage and history of African Americans in our region as a meaningful part of their contemporary lives.

  • We aspire to be the premiere resource that illuminates and connects the past, present, and future of African Americans in southwest Michigan.
  • We recognize the opportunities that our varied audiences present and the challenges we have to communicate the stories of African American heritage in ways that engage and have meaning for each learning style, each age group, and each personal history.
  • We realize the need to communicate the stories of the African American people from pioneer settlers to present-day residents as they are related to each other and even to history as yet unmade.
  • We understand that the material in the Society's archives have intrinsic value beyond their connections to our ancestors.
  • We accept our responsibility to current and future generations to curate those archival objects we accept, and to accept only those objects we can curate appropriately.

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