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.

Quilting Exhibit

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.



New Philadelphia Exhibit

An 1860 Atlas details the layout of “New” Philadelphia

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.

Free Frank McWorter moved to Illinois in 1830 with his family and founded a town, which he thought would benefit from the commerce along the planned Illinois and Michigan Canal. The original town plan consisted of 144 lots in a 12 x 12 square including 22 crisscrossing named streets. McWorter officially registered his town with government authorities and sold the lots. The town was integrated, albeit with some typical 19th-century segregated facilities, such as cemeteries.

Thanks to the Illinois State Museum and the descendants of Free Frank McWorter, the Museum will be hosting an exhibit about New Philadelphia, IL and the McWorter family.

Are you a History Detective? Below are questions about the current exhibits that you can find answers to when you visit the museum. A brochure with these questions is available at the museum to help guide your tour.

"History Makers" - Banners

  1. Who was the first African American Executive Director of the Chicago Central Area Committee, an organization concerned with the architectural viability in the loop?
  2. Who worked on  Harold Washington's Chicago mayoral campaign and later for Nelson Mandela's presidential campaign in South Africa?
  3. Who was the senior most ranking African American politician in the State of Illinois and was a strong advocate for Education funding and social justice?
  4. Who was the first African American to become the president of the Harvard Law Review?

"Honoring Black Churches from Slavery to Freedom"

Name at least three black churches and the year they were founded.

"Eddie Winfred 'One Shot Doc' Helm Photographer"

  1. What was "One Shot Doc's" job as an Illinois state employee?
  2. Identify at least two famous people in the photographs.
  3. Choose one or two photographs and write what you think is happening in the pictures.

"Journey to Freedom"

  1. When did slavery begin in the United States?
  2. What was the abolition movement
  3. List three abolitionists
  4. What was the name of the Illinois colored troop?
  5. Who is Lewis Martin?
  6. When did slavery end?

"Middle Passage"

What was the Middle Passage?

"Robert Moore's U.S. Marshals"

  1. List at least three African American U.S. Marshals and the time periods they served.
  2. Who is the little girl in the Normal Rockwell painting?
  3. Why are the Marshals protecting her?

"Springfield's 'Colored' Citizens During Lincoln's Era"

  1. Who was Thomas Jefferson Houston?
  2. List at least 'colored' citizens Abraham Lincoln knew.
  3. Which one was one of his personal friends?