DuSable Museum of African American History

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DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum.jpg
Location map United States Chicago.png
Red pog.svg
Location within the Chicago metropolitan area.
EstablishedFebruary 16, 1961
(current location since 1973)
Location740 East 56th Place
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Coordinates 41°47′32″N87°36′26″W / 41.792111°N 87.607306°W / 41.792111; -87.607306
PresidentPerri L. Irmer
Website www.dusablemuseum.org

The DuSable Museum of African American History is dedicated to the study and conservation of African American history, culture, and art. It was founded in 1961 by Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, her husband Charles Burroughs, Gerard Lew, Eugene Feldman, Marian M. Hadley, and others. [1] Taylor-Burroughs and other founders established the museum to celebrate black culture, at the time overlooked by most museums and academic establishments. The museum is located at 740 E. 56th Place at the corner of Cottage Grove Avenue in Washington Park, on the South Side of Chicago. The museum has an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution.

Margaret Taylor-Burroughs American visual artist

Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, also known as Margaret Taylor Goss, Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs or Margaret T G Burroughs; was an American visual artist, writer, poet, educator, and arts organizer. She co-founded the Ebony Museum of Chicago, now the DuSable Museum of African American History. An active member of the African-American community, she also helped to establish the South Side Community Art Center, whose opening on May 1, 1941 was dedicated by the First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt. There at the age of 23 Burroughs served as the youngest member of its board of directors. A long-time educator, she spent most of her career at DuSable High School. Taylor-Burroughs was a prolific writer, with her efforts directed toward the exploration of the Black experience and to children, especially to their appreciation of their cultural identity and to their introduction and growing awareness of art. She is also credited with the founding of Chicago's Lake Meadows Art Fair in the early 1950s.

Marian M. Hadley was Nashville, Tennessee's first African American librarian, serving as the first librarian of the Nashville Negro Public Library, a branch of the Nashville Public Library for African American patrons. She went on to work at the Chicago Public Library for almost twenty years, building and promoting the library's collection of African American history and culture.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fourth largest in North America ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.




The DuSable Museum was chartered on February 16, 1961. [2] Its origins as the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art began in the work of Margaret and Charles Burroughs to correct the perceived omission of black history and culture in the education establishment. [3] [4] The museum was originally located on the ground floor of the Burroughs' home at 3806 S. Michigan Avenue. [3] [5] [6] In 1968, the museum was renamed for Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian fur trader and the first non-Native-American permanent settler in Chicago. [7] [8] During the 1960s, the museum and the South Side Community Art Center, which was located across the street, founded in 1941 by Taylor-Burroughs and dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt, [9] formed an African American cultural corridor. [7] This original museum site had previously been a social club [10] and boarding house for African American railroad workers and is now listed as a Chicago Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. [7] [11]

African-American history is the part of American history that looks at the African-Americans or Black Americans in the United States.

Michigan Avenue (Chicago) major north-south thoroughfare in Chicago, Illinois, United States

Michigan Avenue is a north-south street in Chicago which runs at 100 east on the Chicago grid. The northern end of the street is at Lake Shore Drive on the shore of Lake Michigan in the Gold Coast Historic District. The street's southern terminus is at Sibley Boulevard in the southern suburb of Harvey, though like many Chicago streets it exists in several disjointed segments.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Early Founder of Chicago

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what later became Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. The site where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780s is identified as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.

The DuSable Museum quickly filled a void caused by limited cultural resources then available to African Americans in Chicago. It became an educational resource for African American history and culture and a focal point in Chicago for black social activism. The museum has hosted political fundraisers, community festivals, and various events serving the black community. The museum's model has been emulated in numerous other cities around the country, including Boston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. [7]

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, sometimes known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2017 census-estimated population of 1,580,863. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.


In 1973, the Chicago Park District donated the usage of a park administration building in Washington Park as the site for the museum. [4] [5] The current location once served as a lockup facility for the Chicago Police Department. [5] In 1993, the museum expanded with the addition of a new wing named in honor of the late Mayor Harold Washington, [4] the first African-American mayor of Chicago. [12] In 2004, the original building became a contributing building to the Washington Park United States Registered Historic District which is a National Register of Historic Places listing. [13] [14]

Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park districts in the United States. As of 2016, there are over 600 parks included in the Chicago Park District as well as 27 beaches, several boat harbors, two botanic conservatories, a zoo, and 11 museums. The Chicago Park District also has more than over 230 field houses, 78 public pools, and dozens of sports and recreational facilities, with year-round programming. The district is an independent taxing authority as defined by Illinois State Statute and is considered a separate agency of the City of Chicago. The district's general superintendent and CEO, Michael P. Kelly, was appointed by the mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the board of commissioners in 2011. The district's headquarters are located in the Time-Life Building in the Streeterville neighborhood.

Washington Park (Chicago park) park in Chicago in Cook County, Illinois

Washington Park is a 372-acre (1.5 km2) park between Cottage Grove Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive, located at 5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr. in the Washington Park community area on the South Side of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. It was named for President George Washington in 1880. Washington Park is the largest of four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington. Located in the park is the DuSable Museum of African American History. This park was the proposed site of the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic swimming venue for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Washington Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2004.

Chicago Police Department principal law enforcement agency of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is the law enforcement agency of the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois, under the jurisdiction of the City Council. It is the second largest municipal police department in the United States, behind only the New York City Police Department and larger than the Los Angeles Police Department. It has approximately 13,500 officers and over 1,925 other employees. Tracing its roots back to the year 1835, the Chicago Police Department is one of the oldest modern police forces in the world. The United States Department of Justice has criticized the department for its poor training, lack of oversight and routine use of excessive force.

The DuSable Museum is the oldest and before the founding of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the 21st century, the largest caretaker of African American culture in the United States. Over its long history, it has expanded as necessary to reflect the increased interest in black culture. [15] This willingness to adapt has allowed it to survive while other museums faltered due to a weakening economy and decreased public support. [16] The museum was the eighth one located on Park District land. [4] Although it focuses on exhibiting African American culture, it is one of several Chicago museums that celebrates Chicago's ethnic and cultural heritage. [17]

National Museum of African American History and Culture History museum in NW Washington, DC

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian Institution museum established in December 2003. The museum's building, collaboratively designed by Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond, is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It has close to 37,000 objects in its collection related to such subjects as community, family, the visual and performing arts, religion, civil rights, slavery, and segregation. The museum has about 85,000 square feet of exhibition space with 12 exhibitions, 13 different interactives with 17 stations, and 183 videos housed on five floors.

Antoinette Wright, director of the DuSable Museum, has said that African American art has grown out of a need for the culture to preserve its history orally and in art due to historical obstacles to other forms of documentation. She also believes that the museum serves as a motivational tool for members of a culture that has experienced extensive negativity. [18] In the 1980s, African American museums such as the DuSable endured the controversy of whether negative aspects of the cultural history should be memorialized. [19] In the 1990s, the African American genre of museum began to flourish despite financial difficulties. [18] In 2016, the museum formed an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. [20]

Smithsonian Institution Group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government

The Smithsonian Institution, founded on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.


The Harold Washington Wing 20070325 DuSable Museum Harold Washington Wing.JPG
The Harold Washington Wing

The new wing contains a permanent exhibit on Washington with memorabilia, personal effects and surveys highlights of his political career. [5] The museum also serves as the city's primary memorial to du Sable. [4] Highlights of its collection include the desk of activist Ida B. Wells, the violin of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar [21] , and the Charles Dawson Papers [22] .

The museum has a collection of 13,000 artifacts, books, photographs, art objects, and memorabilia. [5] The DuSable collection has come largely from private gifts. It has United States slavery-era relics, nineteenth- and twentieth-century artifacts, and archival materials, including the diaries of sea explorer Captain Harry Dean. The DuSable collection includes works from scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, sociologist St. Clair Drake, and poet Langston Hughes. The African American art collection contains selections from the South Side Community Art Center students Charles White, Archibald Motley, Jr., Gus Nall, Charles Sebree, and Marion Perkins, as well as numerous New Deal Works Progress Administration period and 1960s Black Arts Movement works. The museum also owns prints and drawings by Henry O. Tanner, Richmond Barthé, and Romare Bearden, and has an extensive collection of books and records pertaining to African and African American history and culture. [7] [23]


The original north entrance contains the main lobby of the museum and features the Thomas Miller mosaics, which honor the institution's founders. The building was designed c.1915 by D.H. Burnham and Company to serve as the South Park Administration Building in Washington Park on the city's south side. [4] The new wing is 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2). The museum has a 466-seat auditorium, which is part of the new wing, that hosts community-related events, such as a jazz and blues music series, poetry readings, film screenings, and other cultural events. The museum also has a gift shop and a research library. [5] As of 2001, the museum operated with a US$2.7 million budget, compared to a $55.7M budget for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. [18] The museum's funding is partially dependent upon a Chicago Park District tax levy. [7]

After the 1993 expansion of the new wing, the museum contained 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) of exhibition space. The $4 million expansion was funded by a $2 million matching funds grant from city and state officials. [2] In addition, the museum has been working on preserving and expanding facilities in a nearby architecturally significant roundhouse. [24]

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DuSable High School Chicago public high school divided into 3 high schools in 2005

Jean Baptiste Point DuSable High School is a public 4–year high school campus located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. DuSable is owned by the Chicago Public Schools district. The school was named after Chicago's first permanent non-native settler, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable. Constructed between 1931–34, DuSable opened in February 1935. Since 2005, The school campus serves as home to two smaller schools; the Bronzeville Scholastic Institute and the Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine. Both of the schools use the DuSable name in an athletics context. The DuSable Leadership Academy was housed at the location until it closed after the 2015–16 school year. The school building was designated a Chicago Landmark on May 1, 2013.

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Coordinates: 41°47′32″N087°36′26″W / 41.79222°N 87.60722°W / 41.79222; -87.60722