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Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum
1841 Kennedy Boulevard at the corner of Stevens Avenue
Second Floor of the Greenville Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library

 

Photograph (c.1920) of the Greenville Branch, Jersey City Free Public Library. View looking southeast from Wade Street and Kennedy Boulevard.
Source: American Architect magazine.
Courtesy of the Jersey City Free Public Library

The Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum is housed on the second floor of the Greenville Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library.
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2002

The heritage of Jersey City's African American community has been collected and preserved in a special collection at the Greenville Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library. It is, according to former director Theodore Brunson, "New Jersey's only museum devoted exclusively to the African-American experience" (Quoted in Point).

In 1977, Captain Thomas Taylor, president of the Jersey City Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, promoted the idea to have an exhibit on Afro-American history and culture in Jersey City for February, Black History Month. Lay historian Brunson, with Nora Fant and Virginia Dunnaway, formed the Historical and Cultural Committee to fulfill that mission with the assistance of the NAACP. In 1984, the committee found permanent space for a museum as a separate nonprofit organization housed on the second floor of the library in Greenville. Now a consultant to the museum, Brunson was its first director to 1998. His son, Neal E. Brunson, Esq., presently serves as director.

Examples of the variety of arifacts and exhibits on dsplay at the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum.
Photos: C. Karnoutsos, 2005l

The Museum has galleries for lectures, special exhibits, and a permanent collection of material culture of New Jersey's African Americans as well as African artifacts. The collection includes books, newspapers, documents, photographs, and memorabilia regarding African American history. In particular, one may find information about the slave trade in Jersey City and New Jersey, the underground railroad, a replica of an urban 1930s kitchen, the Pullman Porters (a black labor union), the Civil Rights Movement, the NAACP in New Jersey, New Jersey's historic African American churches, and genealogical records for the preparation of family histories. It conducts tours of historic sites in Hudson County and schedules special events, such as Kwanzaa, celebrating the contributions of African Americans.

The library building was designed by the architect Albert S. Gottlieb of New York City. He also designed the extension to the Jersey City Free Public Library building on Jersey Avenue, the Temple B'nai Jeshurun (now Hopewell Baptist Church) on High Street in Newark, and the New York City landmark Rizzoli Building on Fifth Avenue.

Reference:

Point, George. "A People's History." Hudson County Magazine Fall 1991:57.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub