African American Cultural & Historical Museum

Photo is from the Bentley Historical Library: "Newsboys in Ann Arbor, Mich., ca. 1892"

Telling the Stories of the African American Community

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The AACHM is a member of the Washtenaw County Historical Consortium and recently participated in a joint exhibit at the Museum on Main Street in Ann Arbor. “History Unlocked” in Winter and Spring of 2016.

The highlight of our display was the doll donated to the AACHM by Alice Gilbert. The doll belonged to the great grand daughter of Asher and Catherine Aray of Pittsfield Township. The Arays were African American pioneers who arrived in the Michigan Territory in 1827 and were successful farmers, business operators and known conductors on the Underground Railroad.
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What objects, artifacts or archives would you like to donate to the Museum?
Whether it’s your grandmother’s wedding dress, childhood classroom memories, photographs or even “Papa John” Easley’s barber chair... our goal is to collect, preserve and historically present a community’s shared heritage. Click here to complete an online form for artifact donations.
Some of the Items we are interested in:

Beauty & Barber Fixtures
Church Programs & Documents
Diaries & Journals
Local or Family Obituaries
Area Newspaper Articles
Property Deeds
Farm Equipment
Toys & Games
Lace & Linens
Clothing & Accessories
Family Bibles
Account Books
Organization Programs
Household Items
Video and Films
Military Items
Oral Histories
Business History
Paintings & Prints
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The Museum is actively collecting authentic objects, photographs, documents,oral histories and historical artifacts that tell the story of the African American presence in Washtenaw County from the earliest existence to now. With the community’s participation , the Collection will reflect the people who have lived and worked here from every walk of life. The Museum will emphasize the importance of local history in research, exhibits and education; and provide an excellent experience for all visitors and collaborators.

Everyone is invited to participate in building and sustaining this museum. This includes structured collection growth, financial support, volunteerism, corporate and foundation support, and scholarly expertise. For more information call 734-761-1717 or email aachmuseum@gmail.com
The first Community Scan/Collections Day
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Three Generations of Descendants of Asher Aray Karmen Brown (center, holding her doll she made from a gourd), her sister Patricia Whitsitt (front right) and Les Jackson (far right) are great-great-great-grandchildren of Asher Aray. Alice Harding Gilbert (holding the doll she donated) is the great grandaughter of Aray.
Local history came full circle at the first Historical Objects Inventory Day held at the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Several people shared their family stories and treasures for us to scan and photograph in June 2014. We received some artifact donations including a very special doll that once belonged to Martha Day Jackson, Great Granddaughter of Asher Aray.

In the 1830s, Asher and Catherine Aray farmed a plot of land along what is now Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township. Asher was a man of mixed race descent and a conductor on the Underground Railroad along with neighbor William Webb Harwood and others.The doll was donated to the AACHM by Alice Harding Gilbert, the daughter of Martha Day Jackson and aunt of Les Jackson.