Exhibits

The Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum features exhibits which tell authentic stories about African American life in Central Illinois past and present.

Special events and private guided tours can be made outside of general admission times. Please call the office to schedule your event, (217) 391-6323, Toll Free (877) 757-2247.

The Stories of Quilts

A timeless look at Midwestern quilts, their purpose and evolution. Early Sangamon County quilts made entirely by hand are displayed side-by-side with today's machine techniques.

Robert Moore's United States Marshalls

The elite cadre of US Marshals was once the comain of white men only. In 1875 Bass Reeves was the first black man appointed a US Marshal and in 1877 President Lincoln appointed Fredrick Douglass a US Marshal. It was 85 years until the next African-American received an appointment.

Robert Moore was appointed by President Bill Clinton on October 17, 1994 and served until his retirement on June 29, 2002. This exhibit is curated by US Marshal Robert Moore and contains many items from his personal collection.

"Doc" Helm Photography

This exhibit of stunning black and white photographs by Eddie Winfred Helm (1911-1994), fondly known as "Doc" Helm, covers a broad range of people and places. During 50 years as the Secretary ofState's photographer, Helm captured on film momentous events and occasions. During that time, he also photographed a multitude of everyday events, people and places. In this collection are political and sports figures, doctor's offices, lunch counters, nigh clubs, farm scenes a more. We challenge you to identify some of the individuals pictured. Helm's daughter, Beverly Jean Renfro, is generously loaning these photographs to the Museum.

New Philadelphia Exhibit

The New Philadelphia Town Site is the original site of the now-vanished town of “New Philadelphia”, Illinois. It is located near the city of Barry, in Pike County. Founded in 1836, it was the first town in the United States platted and registered by an African American before the American Civil War. The founder Free Frank McWorter was a former slave who was able to save money from work and his own business to purchase the freedom of his wife, himself and 13 members of his family in Kentucky.

Preston Jackson

This dazzling exhibit of object-enhanced oil paintings are dynamic and thought provoking. Artist Preston Jackson is more often recognized for his monumental outdoor sculpture such as the "Acts of Intolerance" located in Springfield's Union Square Park or "From the Cottonfield to the Battlefield" in Decatur. These paintings depict social interaction and encourage us to contemplate our own means of communicating.

History Maker Banners

The "History Maker Banners" honor prominent Illinois African Americans. Visit the exhibit to learn of the significant contributions made by these exemplary individuals.

Journey to Freedom

The Journey to Freedom traces slavery in North America starting in 1600s, escalating to eventually encompass almost 4 million slaves in the United States alone prior to their emancipation. The exhibit describes how African Americans served the Union cause during the Civil War. The enlistees were assigned to segregated "Colored Troops". The contributions of many African American Ablolitionists including Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman are described. This exhibit was developed by Robert Davis who also portrays Fredrick Douglass.