Exhibit to Highlight African-American History at Ohio University

An upcoming exhibit at Alden Library will welcome black alumni back home to OHIO while showcasing the rich history of African-Americans at the University and in the state.

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African American fraternity on OHIO’s campus, was founded in 1919. The fraternity will be included in the exhibit “Discovering African American Life and History in Archives and Books.” (John Michael Simpson/ Ohio University Libraries)
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African-American fraternity on OHIO’s campus, was founded in 1919. The fraternity will be included in the exhibit “Discovering African-American Life and History in Archives and Books.” (John Michael Simpson/ Ohio University Libraries)

“Discovering African-American Life and History in Archives and Books,” opening Sept. 12, will feature student publications, scrapbooks, photographs and other artifacts from the University Archives and Rare Book Collection. The Black Alumni Reunion will be on campus Sept. 18-19, giving alumni the opportunity to see artifacts from their time at the University and learn more about other time periods.

“Discovering African American Life and History in Archives and Books” will feature artifacts like this registry book from the Hotel Berry, which was located on Court Street from 1892 to 1974. The registry book contains signatures from each guest and their city of origin. (John Michael Simpson/ Ohio University Libraries)
“Discovering African-American Life and History in Archives and Books” will feature artifacts like this registry book from the Hotel Berry, which was located on Court Street from 1892 to 1974. The registry book contains signatures from each guest and their city of origin. (John Michael Simpson/ Ohio University Libraries)

The exhibit will focus on African-Americans in the area and aims to inform the Libraries’ patrons about potentially little-known community leaders.

“There might not be broad knowledge about the fact that there was a pretty big African-American community in Pomeroy in the mid to late 1800s and in other parts of Ohio,” said Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian and exhibit co-curator. “Some people know that history and some people don’t.”

Local history will be the highlight of the exhibit. The work of several early African-American poets, including Paul Dunbar and James Edwin Campbell, both from Ohio, will be on display. The Berry Hotel that was located on Court Street was owned by an African-American couple, and the hotel’s registry book will be featured as well. The hotel opened in 1892, was purchased by the Ohio University Foundation in 1961 and was demolished in 1974. The Court Street Diner stands there today.

Bill Kimok, university archivist and records manager and exhibit co-curator, said the display will also make the community more aware of the extensive resources stored in the Libraries’ special collections.

“We hope that by keeping the exhibit in place for the duration of the semester we will educate visitors to both the history of African-Americans on OHIO’s campus and to the depth of materials in our Mahn Center Collections that are related to African-American life and history in general,” he said.

“Discovering African-American Life and History in Archives and Books” will be housed on the fifth floor of Alden Library from Sept. 12 to Dec. 15.