February traditionally is Black History month and always a good opportunity to highlight some of the resources out there that provide information about local African-American history. One such source, found on the shelf in the Local History Room is titled, Negroes in Michigan History although its real title is Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress (325.26 F 85g).
In the summer of 1915, a celebration was held in Chicago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery. The State of Michigan dedicated $5,000 for an exhibit during the festivities in Chicago which would highlight contributions African-Americans in Michigan had made in several different fields including science, art and manufacturing.
A statewide committee, composed of fifty-seven people, also put together a manual which covered the history and contributions of African-American residents in Michigan. This book, reprinted in 1968, contains a variety of information including brief biographical sketches of individuals and organizations in the state, a list of soldiers who fought in the Civil War, and even home and property owners. The book also is peppered with many black and white photographs, a name index and a list of materials that were in Michigan’s exhibit.
Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress