Resources for African American History


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Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) is Cleveland and Northeast Ohio’s premier storyteller of our region’s past, with six sites located in four counties. Founded in 1867 as the trusted steward of Northeast Ohio history, WRHS is one of the largest and most diversified historical societies in the United States.

We prioritize people, place and purpose.

WRHS strives for a culture of excellence, diversity, access and inclusion for all people and the communities we serve. We apply best practices on the stewardship of our properties, collections and digital resources. We strive to empower the entrepreneurial spirit to create, promote and sustain a relevant, experience driven organization. We approach our work through an equity lens to ensure collections, experiences, volunteers, interns and WRHS Team members reflect the rich diversity of Northeast Ohio.

As we reflect and celebrate African American History and Culture during Black History Month and throughout the year, please refer to the following resources developed by our WRHS Team

Thank you!

Archives & Collections

The African American Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society were established in 1970 to collect, preserve and make accessible historic documents, photographs, memorabilia, art, and artifacts pertaining to African American life, history and culture in Northeast Ohio. The collection includes manuscripts, photographs, microfilm, and newspaper collections specific to the African American experience, and covers a wide range of topics and categories.


African American Archives

Resources pertaining to African American life, history and culture.

Digital Cleveland Starts Here®

Search and browse all WRHS digital content including images, text, and video.

Collections Catalog

Follow this link to see a curated list of African American history resources available in the WRHS Library.

Stokes Oral History Project Collection (MS5416)

This collection includes 34 interviews with family and friends, associates and staff, and was conducted to commemorate the 50th anniversaries of Carl Stokes’s election as Cleveland’s first African American mayor and Louis Stokes’s election to Congress. Follow the link to explore.


Amanda Wicker | Black Fashion Design in Cleveland 

at the Cleveland History Center

Carl and Louis Stokes: Making History 

at the Cleveland History Center

Cleveland Starts Here® 

sponsored by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation | at the Cleveland History Center

The NAACP: A Legacy of Justice and Hope 

at the Cleveland History Center

Women and Politics | Empowered to Vote, Empowered to Lead 

presented by PNCat the Cleveland History Center

Celebrate Those Who Give Black – 2021 

at Cleveland Public Library Main Branch

Cozad Bates House Interpretive Center 

in University Circle | Virtual exhibit also available



  • Youth Entrepreneurship Education | Created in partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) with leadership funding from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the program inspires the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth using historical examples of African American innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • Margaret R. Barron Scholarship Fund | WRHS offers the opportunities for paid student internships in the WRHS African American Archives through the Margaret Barron Scholarship Fund. The African American Archives Processing Intern will assist in the arrangement and description of archival materials related to the African American community of Northeast Ohio. The intern will gain experience in organizing and processing archival materials for researchers to access, broaden research skills, and expand knowledge of WRHS resources. Email interest or questions to
  • Speaking of Cleveland – WRHS Speakers Bureau | Online or in-person programs available for booking including:
  • Praying Grounds: African American Faith Communities
  • presenter Dr. Regennia N. Williams,WRHS Distinguished Scholar of African American History and Culture
  • Black Innovators of Northeast Ohio
  • presenter Dr. Mary ManningPK-12 Education Youth Entrepreneurship Education (YEE) Project Director
  • New Education Curriculum | Cleveland Underground: Resistance and Compliance developed in partnership with University Circle Inc. and our partnership with the Cozad Bates House Interpretive Center in University Circle
  • Recommended Reading
  • Download Activity Sheets

Resources in Our Community

Western Reserve Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio, the region's largest American history research center, and one of the leading genealogical research centers in the nation.

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Cleveland History Center
10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106 ↗

(216) 721-5722

Thursday: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm