Alabama State Black Archives Research Center & Museum at AAMU Reopens

(Photos in story courtesy MacKenzie Lemon)

Alabama State Black Archives Research Center & Museum at AAMU Reopens

For a deep dive into Alabama’s Black history, visitors can now explore the Alabama State Black Archives Research Center & Museum at Alabama A&M University. The archives are open for public tours. Established by the Alabama Legislature in 1987, the archives opened at AAMU in 1990.The University collected Black History artifacts both locally and across the state of Alabama before closing seven years ago for renovations. 

“Several upgrades were made to the space to enhance the overall look and feel inside the building,” says Veronica Henderson, Interim Director for the J.F. Drake Memorial Learning Resources Center and State Black Archives Research Center & Museum. “There was a facelift to the building’s exterior, a much-needed refresh, and a campus repaving project that left the space dormant for the past two years.” 

The archives are housed in the historic James H. Wilson Building. Formerly the Councill Domestic Science Building, the Wilson building is one of the three oldest buildings on campus, along with the Virginia McCormick Hospital and Carnegie Library. It also has one of the best views in Huntsville.

There are currently several exhibits on display. One exhibit – Brick by Brick: The Legacy of Henderson and Daniel Brandon – is a favorite of Henderson. “These gentlemen overcame enslavement and became a part of Huntsville’s elite entrepreneurs. Some of their structures still stand in North Alabama – the Harrison Brothers Hardware, for example. The exhibit is courtesy of the Historic Huntsville Foundation and its Executive Director, Donna Castellano.” 

Bricks Used By Former Slaves Henderson and Daniel Brandon to construct buildings in Huntsville, Ala.
(Photos in story courtesy MacKenzie Lemon)

Henderson says guests will learn more about the impact of African Americans who have called Alabama home. 

The archives cover three floors. The top floor houses The Velma A. Walker Gallery, an alumna and avid art collecter who requested her art be donated to Alabama A&M University. And there is at least one hidden gem, aBuffalo Soldier cavalryman’s Stetson hat from a soldier in the U.S. Army, 10th Cavalry, Unit H. Books are also available for use.  

The archives are seeking support from the community, and tours are free, but by appointment only. Appointments are available during AAMU’s summer schedule from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday. To schedule an appointment, email veronica.henderson@aamu.edu. 

(Photos in story courtesy MacKenzie Lemon)