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Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum

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The Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum located on the corners of North 27 and West Center Streets opened its door and its heart to the community, city, and state in 1987. Based on the premise that a people who know their history will grow to love and appreciate themselves more, the Society is striving to create a bright future out of a heart breaking past.

The mission of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin. The Museum exhibits, collects and disseminates materials depicting this heritage. Serving as a resource center for all people interested in Wisconsin's rich African American heritage, the Museum's purpose is to encourage and promote family community and cultural activities.

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum (WBHS/M) is the only institution dedicated in the State dedicated to the business of preserving Wisconsin's African American History. The Society is also an affiliated member of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


In 1983, Clayborn Benson, a television photographer, while working for WTMJ-TV (NBC Affiliate) began working on a project concerning the history of African Americans in the State of Wisconsin. The video project took more than three years to complete and is called: "Black Communities in Wisconsin."

While working on Black Communities, Benson discovered that records and documents concerning the history and roots of Black people in Wisconsin were widely scattered and poorly preserved.

Wisconsin's African American history was found spread out all over the entire state, from cardboard boxes in basements, to individual's home and garages, to information only to be found in the minds of individuals who lived through history making times. In many cases, important historical documents were sitting in the dark of historical societies, but were buried under boxes and files of other information, or set aside for lack of knowledge as to the importance or possible utilization of the document. These documents did not seem to be of importance to some of the established historical societies. Other societies refused to share their information.

The video, once released, generated so much interest that Benson, along with other community leaders, established the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/ Museum. The Society first announced its existence in February 1987 at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Finlayson. The Society has since been accepted as an affiliated member of the State Historical Society.

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon11:00 AM4:00 PM
Tue11:00 AM4:00 PM
Wed11:00 AM4:00 PM
Thr11:00 AM4:00 PM
Fri11:00 AM4:00 PM
Sat9:00 AM1:00 PM
Sun9:00 AM1:00 PM
Notes: None Listed


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