Hines Bar

Patrons gather at the Hines Farm, an African-American blues club in Swanton.

BGSU Archival Collections preserving local African-American history

BGSU’s Center for Archival Collections is partnering with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at the University of Toledo and the African American Legacy Project to gather and preserve materials related to the history of the northwest Ohio African-American community.

The formal partnership was announced at a news conference June 19 at the African American Legacy Project headquarters in Toledo. Founded in 2002, the project is a repository of information about the region’s black history.

Dancing at Hines Farm, where many famous African-American musicians played while traveling between Chicago and Detroit

The agreement calls for the partners to work together to professionally preserve materials donated to the project, while making vital documents available to the public.

Representatives of the four organizations have been meeting for the past year to finalize the agreement, which outlines how materials will be collected and enables each institution to own donated material. A significant portion of the collection will be retained at the project’s Upton Avenue facility in Toledo.

The coalition sees it as an important step in preserving local history.

“Much local ethnic history has been lost or overlooked … our meetings and discussions over the last year hope to correct this issue,” noted James C. Marshall, manager of the local history and genealogy department at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

Ann Jenks, who heads BGSU’s Center for Archival Collections, said she is excited about working with the African American Legacy Project board, and added that because “there will be four institutions working together, there is an increased chance of garnering some grant funds for this effort.”

The partner institutions reserve the right to accept only those materials each feels is appropriate to their own collection policies. For example, a collection documenting African-American organizations beyond Toledo and Lucas County would likely be best preserved by the Center for Archival Collections. If other partner institutions were approached about such a collection, they would refer the materials to BGSU.

While Bowling Green’s center has a few documents related to black history—such as transcripts of interviews with former slaves conducted in 1937-39—Jenks notes, “Our collections of African-American materials are severely under-represented. We hope to change that with this project.”

June 26, 2006