Black Archives of Mid-America

The Crosthwaite Family Collection / The Black Archives of Mid-America

When historians hope to uncover a new wrinkle in the past, they usually head to an archive. They dig through boxes and folders containing photographs, letters and other artifacts, looking for something that sheds new light on the past. Here are a few little-known gems, selected by Kansas City archivists.

Guests:

The Black Archives of Mid-America

Over forty years ago, Horace Peterson III started collecting relics of Kansas City-area history in the trunk of his car.

That collection grew into the Black Archives of Mid-America, a research facility, museum and community gathering space now located at 1722 E. 17th Terrace in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, Mo.

The Black Archives of Mid-America

The Black Archives of Mid-America has provided a place to learn about African-American history in Kansas City, Mo., for the past four decades.  

And during that time, it has amassed a vast collection of papers, photographs and even physical structures to show what life was like as a black Kansas Citian. 

As the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary this week, we wanted to know more about the types of materials in the collection that started in 1974, when Horace Peterson III founded the Black Archives.

Courtesy / Black Archives of Mid-America

In an age before the internet—and in an environment that in some ways promoted isolation and disconnection—African-Americans in Kansas City in the early 20th century still found ways to find connection and community.

Churches and social clubs have been called the “glue” that held the black community together, alongside families and schools, and a new exhibit at the Black Archives of Mid-America chronicles some of that important history.

Guest:

  • Michael Sweeney, collection librarian for the Black Archives of Mid-America
Laura Spencer / KCUR

Playbills from performances, snapshots of family and friends, and personal letters of the late choreographer Alvin Ailey are now housed at the Black Archives of Mid-America.

The collection is called the Allan Gray Family Personal Papers of Alvin Ailey. And it's on long-term loan to the Black Archives.

Grand Opening: The Black Archives Of Mid-America

Jun 20, 2012
Black Archives of Mid-America

The ground has broken on the building of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in the same year that the Black Archives of Mid-America has reopened here in Kansas City.What remains now for both institutions is charting the course of those who break new ground in every field of human endeavor.

Susan B. Wilson

The Black Archives of Mid-America recently completed renovations on a new exhibit and archive space and also welcomed a new executive director, Doretha Williams. Williams has a doctorate from the University of Kansas in American Studies and hopes to bring the community back to the archives.

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

The show for January 15, 2012.