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.
This new exhibit explores and illuminates African American families who moved to Central Illinois in the 1800's and who have descendants in Springfield. The exhibit is the result of research and interviews done by board member, Elizabeth Alexander and volunteer, Patricia Davis. It was sponsored and funded by a grant from the Sangamon County Historical Society. No charge, but donations are welcome.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The African American History Museum of Springfield and Central Illinois salutes and honors King's legacy through a commemoration of his life, with a focus on the influences of his life, his profound writings and speeches.
NPR Illinois Interview
Doris Bailey, the coordinator of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum, was interviewed by Rachel Otwell of NPR Illinois on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Click on the link below to hear this very informative interview, which includes a brief audio tour of our Martin Luther King exhibit.
Robert Moore's United States Marshalls
The elite cadre of US Marshals was once the domain 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.
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.
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.