Studying African American history in Pennsylvania

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February is national African American history month.  All over the country, communities are discovering, celebrating, and acknowledging the places that tell the stories of African American history and experience.  This is the perfect time for us to talk about one of our newest initiatives to study African American history in Pennsylvania.

The project…

Last year, the National Park Service (NPS) awarded a $30,000 grant to the PA SHPO to study African American history and historic places in Pennsylvania.  This grant program supports the survey, inventory, and designation of historic properties that are associated with communities currently underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places and among National Historic Landmarks.

NPS’ Underrepresented Communities grant program provides money to study historic and archaeological resources that aren’t well represented in the National Register of Historic Places.

Our project is a statewide study of African American history in rural and suburban Pennsylvania related to religious, educational, and benevolent institutions in those African American communities to help identify and nominate properties to the National Register.  This project will emphasize important themes from Pennsylvania’s storied African American past, while attempting to bring a new perspective to the study of African American history as its told through buildings, sites, and communities.

This two-year study will examine churches, schools, cemeteries, fraternal buildings and other institutions important to African American history in Pennsylvania. It includes preparing a historic context for these types of properties, nominating a property to the National Register of Historic Places, and providing education and outreach about African American history in Pennsylvania. Why this project is important…

The story of African Americans in Pennsylvania is both rich and deep, yet there is little information about the built environment that reflects this powerful historical story.

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